There are so many providers trying to sell backup solutions that rarely a week goes by without most executives getting an email on the importance of disaster recovery. If you aren’t subscribing to a backup service, your business will go out of business, they warn. They’re only half right.
Once you have more than a handful of employees, it’s critical to have a disaster recovery plan. It’s true that a backup and disaster recovery solution (BDR) is a very important component of any recovery plan – but can a BDR solution really save you from a disaster? Here are four things you’ll want to be prepared to do, quickly, in the event of a disaster.
Restore your data
When you find your business, or your server room, under two feet of water (servers do not respond well to fire sprinkler systems) you’ll want to have a recent data backup ready for restoration from an off-site location. Keep in mind that you’re likely to lose some data even with a backup disaster recovery service. If it backs up nightly, for instance, you’re going to lose a day of work. If nobody has tested your backups, and they haven’t worked for two weeks or two months, you’re probably going to lose more data than you can afford to lose. Make sure these backups are done regularly, and tested regularly.
Restore your hardware and configurations
If you want to restore technology access to your team, you’ll need more than just your data. That’s because your data isn’t accessible by default – that requires specific server configurations. You’ll need to restore Active Directory, which manages your passwords. Applications will need to be reinstalled, and clients will need to be granted access to them. Even the server hardware may need to be similar to the one you previously had on-site for your data to be accessible – and finding this can be difficult if the server was purchased years ago.
Most disasters don’t involve an entire building catching fire or getting flooded – but it happens to small businesses every day. In these cases, if you don’t have thorough documentation of the way your network is configured along with the software and hardware which was used on both the server and client side, it could take months before you’re fully operational, even if you’ve retained all of your business data.
Alternate Location Plan
If you couldn’t work out of your building tomorrow, where would you go? It’s an important question that most small businesses can’t easily answer.
Large or high-margin businesses can afford ‘hot sites’ – secondary locations which are already leased, wired, powered, and ready to go in the event of a disaster. Smaller businesses have ‘warm sites’ or ‘cold sites’ – buildings which have been identified as possible secondary locations, but will require investments or even leasing before the company can get up and running. But if you don’t even have a plan of where you might go, you could be out in the cold for weeks before your business has a physical office location. Make sure your plan includes the address of a location you’ll operate from if your primary address is unavailable.
Once your plan includes all of the tasks that will need to be completed, team members need to be assigned the tasks they’ll be responsible for performing. Getting back to business will require many people taking responsibility for related tasks, and so you’ll need a solid communication plan. Your team should enter a disaster situation knowing what they’re responsible for accomplishing, the names and roles of other team members they will need to complete their tasks, and how to reach those team members. Without this, the first few days of critical time will be lost building a communication plan.
In the face of a disaster, the efficacy of your response hinges on more than just having a backup. Swift data restoration, hardware and configuration recovery, a well-thought-out alternate location plan, and effective communication are paramount. Regularly tested backups ensure minimal data loss, while meticulous documentation expedites the restoration of configurations. Crafting an alternate location plan, even for smaller businesses, and establishing a robust communication strategy are indispensable. As disasters can strike unexpectedly, a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, encompassing these key elements, is your ultimate safeguard for ensuring business continuity and resilience.
For help with a disaster recovery plan that inspires confidence, call WingSwept at 919.779.0954 (or contact us online) and ask about our Managed Services offerings.