Be prepared scout badge denver IT companyLast week, a local business park conducted one of their quarterly emergency preparedness drills. Bells rang, people lined up, emergency kits were grabbed and about 400+ employees, executives and facility managers quickly filtered out into the parking lot. It ran smoothly and efficiently; clearly, they had studied and practiced. We were impressed, but had to ask….who’s minding IT? Was there an equally studied disaster plan in place for their business?

Let’s first clear up the term ‘disaster recovery.’ It’s true that if we say the word “disaster” most of us would think of an earthquake, a fire, hurricane or blizzard. But oddly enough, these only account for 5% to 9% of all disasters that affect small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMB), according to Aberdeen Group. So what about the other 91% – 95%? Well, if you’re running an SMB, it can mean pretty much anything that interrupts the normal operations of your business. Things like computer crashes, theft and vandalism, employee errors, and power surges or outages ….they can wreak havoc on a small firm. Trust us when we say that an outage is an outage, regardless of whether it was caused by a malicious attacker, a malware outbreak, or a dead hard drive.  In all cases, productivity will be affected.

Ok, so now we know what ‘disaster’ can mean. Now what? Well, back to the business park we were talking about. If that drill was a real response to a ‘disaster’, what plan is in place to bring things back up to speed and prevent/minimize business disruption? Here are a few things to consider:

Step 1. Planning & Design

Design a business continuity and data disaster recovery strategy optimized for your company’s business processes. Think about your needs. How quickly does each application need to be running? How quickly data, documents and files need to be accessible? For example, something like this:

  • Email – 4 hours
  • Accounting Applications – 4 hours
  • Customer Relationship Management – 2 hours
  • Other application – within a day
  • Archive data – within 3 days

Step 2. Evaluation

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s systems, its areas of vulnerability and possible threats, and identify areas of potential risk. Make sure your plan includes:

  • Backup: Accurate and reliable copies of data and services
  • Management: Manage retention and replication of backup images
  • Measurement: Monitoring/service level reporting
  • Testing: Validate backup image integrity and simulate data access and recovery
  • Recovery: Fast and flexible restoration of data and services
  • Contingency: Business continuity

Step 3. Implementation & Test

Execute, test, and validate your disaster recovery and business continuity plans on an ongoing basis. For example; perform monthly test restores of randomly selected data to a test folder to ensure the data is actually usable in the event of a disaster

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