Disaster Recovery Planning

Ken Colburn of Data Doctors helps Ralph, who writes:

In light of what Katrina did to businesses on the Gulf Coast, what kind of disaster recovery planning should I incorporate for my business?

The massive destruction brought on by Katrina illuminates the need to think in terms of a total business system recovery process in the event of a major loss. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some basic principles that apply to every situation and the time to think about what to do is before you need it.

Hardware and software can be easily replaced, but your mission critical data is invaluable and should be the primary focus of your planning.

The likelihood of a natural disaster causing data loss is much lower for most businesses than the more common causes of fire or theft.

Your first task is to access whether your backup system is adequate and covers all of your important data. Some surveys estimate that as much as 60% of a company’s critical data is not being addressed because it is spread across desktops, laptops and removable media that are not part of the backup processes.

If you are a small business and don’t have an IT staff, you need to start by ensuring that you have a central location (usually a server of some sort) for all critical data so your backup system can duplicate it all in a single process on a scheduled basis. You must also include a verification procedure to ensure your daily process is actually getting your data.

In our many years of providing system reconstruction and data recovery services, we have seen countless situations where the backup that we are given to recreate the system is old and outdated because no one was actually verifying the backups on a regular basis.

Once you have created a daily routine for backing up and verifying, you need to think about the best way to keep a copy of your data off-site.

Most companies charge an employee with taking a copy of the backup home with them nightly which is fine if it’s done, but any time you include a human in the system you increase the chance for failure.

There are dozens of companies that provide secure web-based off-site backup services that automatically “push” a copy of your critical data up every night.

These services work best if you have a high-speed Internet connection with a reasonable upload speed. (I would recommend 128K or higher). You can test your upload speed here.

The validation of your backup system will become clear when you document the actual steps needed for the recovery process. Ask yourself what would we do (exactly, step by step) in the event of a fire?

Any portion of the recovery process that causes an extended amount of time to complete or does not provide a clear path to recovery needs to be dealt with while you have the time to think things through.

Because the best plan for your situation is based on many factors, be sure to consult with your service provider if you don’t have the technical expertise on your staff. Folks that deal with this issue on a daily basis will be able to bring the experience of what others in your situation are doing for your consideration.

[tags]katrina,data doctors,ken colburn,disaster recovery,business preparation,natural disaster[/tags]

Article Written by