If a massive cyclone hit New South Wales tomorrow, would your business be ready? How soon would you be back up and running? How much would you lose?
Insurance is one of those set-and-forget ‘grudge purchases’ that, throughout the course of normal operations may as well not exist. But its usefulness in times of need can't be overstated. In a crisis, a good insurance policy is all that stands between you and the potential loss of your business as you know it.
Think of disaster recovery as the most powerful of insurance plans: in a worse case scenario, a disaster recovery plan is the only thing that stands between your business and... well, disaster.
There is one crucial difference, though: an insurance plan insures those things that can be replaced. Disaster recovery is a way to protect those intangible things that can’t be replaced – namely your business data.
Data is the new currency, and we should protect it with no less rigour than we would protect a room full of gold bars. Fortunately, you don't need steel safes or armed guards to keep your data safe - you just need to implement a few simple procedures. Here's what we recommend.
Protect Your Data
We all know about virus protection, and for good reason - it's the first building block of a comprehensive data security strategy. We've talked previously on the importance of secure passwords, and building security into your networks.
Virus protection, passwords, and network security should already be integrated into your day-to-day operations, but they should be meticulously reviewed as part of a disaster recovery plan. If these are the building blocks of your safe-house, it's time to make sure the foundation is solid.
Know Your Data
It may sound like common sense, but you can't protect what you don't understand. Schedule a brief meeting with the employees most knowledgeable about a particular set of data: talk to HR about payroll, your web team about your website data, and sales about customers lists.
You should know what data is critical and what can be easily reproduced. In each meeting, keep a record of those questions that can't be answered, and take those questions to the IT team to resolve.
Back up, back up, back up
The single most important step in disaster recovery is making sure that your data is replicated - that it exists in more than one place.
The backup process has come a long way over the years, and much of it can be automated, but a plan needs to be installed. Find out which data cannot be recreated anywhere else. This will be your priority one data. If nothing else is backed up, make sure that your priority one data is backed up regularly. A full system backup, however, is by far the most effective method.
Backups can be done in a number of ways: on magnetic tape, CD-ROM, or an external hard drive. Keep in mind that these methods aren't very effective for natural disasters, since they exist in the same physical location and the backups could easily be damaged along with the originals. Remote backup or cloud-based backup is a far more effective method.
Assign people to the process
Make sure that more than one person knows the entire backup process. In the event that the first person in line isn't available to implement the disaster recovery plan, a second—or even third—person should be available to step in immediately. Make sure that each person knows his or her responsibilities, and practice carrying them out.
Document the process
The disaster recovery plan itself should not be reliant on any individual's memory. Document the process so that it is carried out to precise specifications regardless of who implements it.
Mostly, we think of natural disasters like floods or cyclones when we think of disasters, but technological disasters are a far more prevalent threat to your data. If you think your vulnerability is limited to Mother Nature, think again.
A single line of code can cause your business to lose days, even weeks of productivity. Not to mention the affect that a virus or Trojan can have on your network.
This information is a good start to understanding disaster recovery. If you are interested in more detailed information, we strongly recommend you download our comprehensive disaster recovery guide, which includes a disaster recovery template you can complete for your business.
If you're worried about your exposure to disaster we are happy to answer any questions you may have or just call us on 02 4254 5444.