At some point and at some level, your organization will experience a disaster. When the time comes, you will want to make sure that you have a fool-proof, well tested disaster recovery plan in place. Many organizations are turned away by the time intensive nature of disaster recovery planning. They also think they couldn’t possibly test for each scenario.
Having an untested, general plan can only last you so long. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that 40 percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster. Of that 40 percent, 25 percent will fail within one year. Unfortunately, the statistics are not in our favor. It is important to make sure that you have all your bases covered when it comes to business’ disaster recovery plan.
There are several different key factors that we will be discussing when it comes to disaster recovery planning. Let’s start off with the first key to your disaster recovery plan, knowing what classifies as a disaster.
What Are the different types of disasters to prepare for?
Natural disasters aren’t the only kind of disaster you must plan for. Actually, natural disasters are the lowest leading cause of data loss. But because of theor unpredictable nature, you still must plan accordingly. The most common types of “data disasters” are hardware or system malfunctions and human errors. Other common types of disasters to plan for are:
- Computer viruses and malware – Cyber criminals’ tactics are becoming more sophisticated every day. There are many types of viruses and malware that go around daily: email-based attacks, phishing, ransomware. Don’t become a victim of these attacks. Back up your files regularly so you can simply restore your files rather than paying the costly fees.
- Power failures – Power failures can cause harm to your computer’s components. A sudden loss of power can interrupt these procedures and render your computer inoperable. Having good backup can protect you in the event of power related data loss.
- Theft – Laptop theft happens more often than we all think. According to Gartner, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds. Don’t leave your laptop unintended. The price of losing business critical data is simply irreplaceable. Having the ability to wipe a computer remotely is paramount to protecting your business from a data breach.
- Natural Disasters – Natural disasters are the lowest leading cause of data loss, but it is still a threat to all organizations. Because of their unpredictable nature, it is important to be fully prepared for when a natural disaster happens. Prepare by having backup locations for work spaces, a regular data backup solution and communication plans throughout the company.
- Hardware and system malfunctions – Systems and hardware fail every day for a variety of reasons. Some common causes are: technical, misuse, external / internal factors, or simply they are too old and worn out. Don’t wait until you actually see signs of failure to back up your data. Another good practice is to monitor your systems 24/7/365 with remote monitoring and management software to catch issues before they become big problems.
- Human Errors – We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Accidental deletion and security human errors are bound to happen sooner or later. Educate your employees of the latest threats and security practices as well as common data loss issues.
What is your tolerance for each disaster?
The second key to your disaster recovery plan is, determine your tolerance for each disaster level. Once you discover the different levels of disaster, it is time to assess your levels of tolerance. While doing this, create a clear recovery point objective (RPO) that will determine your tolerance for lost data. As well as, your recovery time objective (RTO) which will outline how much downtime you can afford. The answers to these will vary for various for different companies. One thing to keep in mind, the lower the tolerance the higher the cost. Align your processes and technologies to keep you within the limits you have set.
Define, communicate, test your plan
This could be one of the more tedious parts of your disaster recovery planning. Once everything is defined, put together a written plan that documents what will happen in the different scenarios. A few different things to remember when documenting:
- What could happen to your organization?
- How would this affect your network, applications, and technologies?
- Who and how would you alert your staff, clients, vendors?
- What is each step of the recovery process?
After you document the steps in your disaster recovery plan, it is time to communicate and test your plan. Make sure that you communicate the disaster recovery plan to the appropriate employees. It is better to keep your employees in the loop so in the case of an emergency you are not going into this blindly.
Lastly, Test your plan fully. Make sure that the appropriate people know what their role is and test your technologies to make sure that you are completing the tasks at hand. Is your backup technology taking snapshots of your server? Can you virtualize a server on the backup device? How long do these processes take?
Disaster planning is not the easiest thing to do, but it is necessary for the success of your business. If you are not sure where to begin, you can contact a technology professional to help create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan for your organization.
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