Every business needs a disaster recovery plan. Regardless of your industry or location, the danger of losing your organization’s critical data is a serious concern. While a degree of risk is involved in decisions made in business every day, the choices managers make typically don’t jeopardize the future of their business. Not many entrepreneurs would knowingly drop fire or liability coverage, yet many companies operate without a viable disaster recovery (DR) plan in place to protect one of their most valued assets—business data and information.

The likelihood of your company burning to the ground or being decimated by a tornado may be remote, but catastrophes do happen and a business has to be prepared for these events. Consider the implications if your critical financial and customer data was lost and could not be recovered, or the information loss required the business to close for several days. Without an effective data backup plan and properly designed systems, the interruption and lost productivity could be disastrous. It’s impossible to put a price on the information stored in your company's information systems but, with the right preparation, you won’t have to.

A number of federal and state regulations require businesses to ensure proper information management procedures are implemented and that the steps are followed. Courts have little sympathy for companies that lose vital information pertaining to a legal proceeding; it’s no longer a defense and could lead to substantial penalties and fees. These consumers and stockholders protections are intended to prevent improper business practices and your company could also be subject to regulations applying to your state, municipality or industry. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted to ensure proper business record management processes were being followed by publicly held companies. Similar regulations affect specific industries or markets, such as HIPAA (Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which protects and regulates medical information.

Remote Site Backup - Your Security Blanket
DR plans not only ensure a timely retrieval of information, but the continuity of your company’s operations. In order to maximize its effectiveness, at least one data backup system should be located off-site; in a separate building or with a third-party information specialist. Having all your business’ backup systems in one facility can be devastating should a fire or natural disaster destroy your operation. The Federal Reserve instructs financial institutions to locate their backup systems (and their highly critical data) at least 200-300 miles from main facilities; a good distance to reference for other companies.

While some organizations choose to place their off-site backup systems in their own facilities to maximize control and safety, assumed cost and security benefits may not be realistic. Experienced DR professionals are typically held to higher compliance and security standards than individual businesses. In order to serve a variety of industries and markets, these providers have to meet a number of state and federal requirements—including regularly scheduled audits and system upgrades. Third-party DR services invest in enhanced systems to manage and store business data for a number of clients and offer security and other protections that could be cost prohibitive for individual companies.

Remember the Role of On-Site Backup
An on-site data backup system complements an off-site plan, but it should not replace it. An on-site storage solution starts with each computer, including the hard disc drive, CDs/DVDs, and USB memory devices. We all store data needed for daily work on these devices and media—though each business file should also be backed-up to the main storage systems. External hard drives are a great complement to individual computers, with affordable systems approaching 2 TB (2,048 gigabytes) that can also be uploaded to a network-based solution.

A more comprehensive option for on-site information backup is a NAS (network attached storage), which connects a hardware device and specialized software to a business network. These systems have dropped in price in recent years, while their storage capacities have escalated. Even with the implementation and support costs for trained IT professionals, a NAS system is a cost-effective solution for most businesses. These backup systems map all network-connected file directories and then schedule backup sessions based on the needs of the individual organization.

Build an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
A disaster recovery plan should include a complete list of the precautions your company must take to minimize the effects of a disaster on the organization, as well as a detailed process for bringing critical systems back online. Ultimately the responsibility of the management team, it typically involves each employee in the organization. Each individual’s duties should be outlined in the document, including a timeline for completing assigned tasks.

In many respects, the DR plan can be more important than the original business plan. For that reason, companies commonly retain the services of an experienced consultant to develop and implement the program and spend upwards of 25% of their annual technology budgets in this area. While that investment may seem large; recognizing the importance of disaster recovery in your business and implementing a proper plan are invaluable.

 

Article submitted by Tatsiana Shulha, digital analyst of TeamLogic IT Plano. (469) 573-3743

TeamLogic IT Plano, TX is part of a nationwide network of computer consultation and managed services businesses providing outsourced IT services. Small- to medium-sized businesses rely on TeamLogic IT to handle a broad range of services from urgent computer repair and proactive maintenance to the installation of entire networks and more. For more information, contact Tatsiana at tshulha@TeamLogicIT.com or visit https://teamlogicitplanotx.com/