10 Disaster Planning Essentials for Small Businesses
We all know data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for even just a few days due to data loss or corruption. If you have ever wondered if you have the right plan in place for your data, then you may find this helpful.
Disasters usually occur when you least expect it and can happen on any day, at any time. Without being properly prepared, you run the risk of having the disaster hitting before you even have a plan in place to handle it. Here are 10 things that can help make sure your business if prepared to get back up and running in the event of a disaster.
- Have a written plan. This seems simple, but just thinking through in ADVANCE what needs to happen if your server has a meltdown or a natural disaster wipes out your office, will go a long way in getting everything working again fast. At a minimum, the plan should contain details on what disaster could happen and a step-by-step process of what to do, who should do it and how. It is also helpful to include contact information for various providers and username and password information for various applications. If you cannot afford to have your network down for more than a few hours, then you need a plan that can get you back up and running within that time frame. You may want the ability to virtualize your server, allowing the office to run off the virtualized server while the real server is repaired. Make sure the appropriate staff have a copy of your plan, including your IT consultant.
- Hire a trusted professional to help you. Attempting to recover your data after a disaster without the right resources can be detrimental; one misstep during the recovery process can result in forever losing your data. Make sure you have resources that have experience in both setting up business continuity plans AND physically recovery the data.
- Have a communications plan. Do you know how your employees would communicate if they were not able to go into the office, use their email, or use their office phone? Make sure your plan includes this information including MULTIPLE communications methods.
- Automate your backups. If backing up your data depends on a human being doing something, then it is time to change. The #1 cause of data loss is human error (people not swapping out tapes properly, someone not setting up the backup to run properly, etc.). ALWAYS automate your backups.
- Have an offsite backup of your data. ALWAYS maintain a recent copy of your data off site, on a different server, or on a storage device. Onsite backups are good, but if there is a flood, fire or the device gets stolen, that data is lost.
- Have remote access and management of your network. This allows you and your staff to keep working if you cannot go into your office. Your IT staff or an IT consultant should be able to access your network remotely in the event of an emergency or for routine maintenance.
- Image your server. Having a copy of your data offsite is good, but keep in mind that all that information must be RESTORED someplace to be of any use. I may take days to reinstate your applications (like Microsoft Office, your database, accounting software, etc.) if you do not have keys, even though your data may be readily available. By imaging your server, you have an exact replica; that replica can then be directly copied to another server, which saves an enormous amount of time and money in getting your network back.
- Network documentation. Documentation is key. Your IT manager or IT consultant should put this together for you. This will make the job of restoring your network faster, easier, AND cheaper. If a disaster strikes, you have documentation for insurance claims of exactly what you lost. Again, have your IT professional document this and keep a copy with your disaster recovery plan.
- Maintain Your System. Maintaining and Securing your network is the best way to avoid disaster. While fires, floods, theft, and natural disasters are certainly a threat, you are much more likely to experience downtime and data loss due to a virus or hacker attack. That is why it is critical to keep your network patched, secure and up to date. Additionally, monitor hardware for age and software for corruption. This is another overlooked threat that can wipe you out. Make sure you replace or repair aging software or hardware to avoid this problem.
- Test, test, test! Most people take the time to setup backups but they fail to ever test them! Work with an IT professional to make sure you can properly restore your data securely. The worst time to test your parachute is AFTER you’ve jumped out of the plane.
If you have questions regarding your business continuity and data backup plan, simply call us at 844-365-4900 or send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org