It’s a disaster!
When it comes to a hard drive failure, accidental data deletion or other act of God, human error or technological breakdown, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
Here in Australia we’ve seen several dramatic incidences of loss of life and property because of our unforgiving climate, and power grids aren’t perfect.
So let me repeat that. A disaster will strike your business. Whether your business survives it will depend on your disaster preparedness.
A disaster plan is a set of guidelines – a print out or a whole manual depending on the size of your business – about exactly what to do when disaster strikes. It will stop you panicking and maybe causing even more damage, and put you on track to a full recovery much quicker than any ad-hoc or last minute fix.
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is about anticipating disruptions and reducing impact. Ten per cent of businesses, according to a study, never recover from a disaster.
It doesn’t matter what size your business is. You might have several offices with dozens or hundreds of staff or it might be just you. Your plan should contain a series of steps to be taken to restore backups, re-acquire equipment or any number of other actions, and when it’s written under controlled and calm conditions instead of when sirens are going off (i.e. in the midst of the actual disaster) you’re going to get up and running much faster.
It will contain notations of where files should be backed up and – in the advent of a security, natural disaster or other incident – who to contact, who has authority to purchase equipment or access data, where backup copies of data are stored and the order in which they should be restored.
The great thing about a disaster recovery plan is that you can apply it to other areas of life. Most of our music, photos and media are digital nowadays and you can make sure everything’s secure along with business documents. And with enough scope, you can also have your DRP cover hard as well as electronic copies of data or materials.
What’s your type?
The inexpensive cost of hard drive storage and cloud availability has given us more options for backing up than ever.
You might just buy an external USB hard drive that attaches to your PC and which you can carry anywhere. You might have a network attached storage (NAS) device that automatically copies the entire contents of your PC on a rolling basis. You might use an online cloud backup solution.
Here’s an ever better idea – as far as your budget allows, do all three, and any others you can think of. There’s not much chance of an earthquake in the country that hosts your cloud storage account the same day you lose your office in a fire and drop your iPod under a bus, but we all know that Murphy…
When you have your DRP, and the components and equipment that comprise it, test it rigorously and often. In some industries it’s actually the law to make sure your DRP is up to date and tested regularly. SME businesses aren’t as regulated, but if you have a single base of operations (even if it’s only your living room table), that’s all the more reason to make sure data is backed up offsite according to your DRP.
Lastly, remember that circumstances change. The amount of data you keep might outgrow a storage medium. You might find you can archive a lot of information you don’t need immediate access to.
Whenever something changes, get out your DRP and make the necessary changes. If you don’t and something does go wrong, you might be wasting time actioning material that’s no longer important.