Preparing Your Business for Data Loss in a Disaster
No one thinks they will be the victim of a data disaster - it's human nature to think we will beat the odds. But disasters happen every day and come in all shapes and sizes. If your business doesn't have a detailed recovery plan, you're likely to lose everything when disaster strikes.
But backup and recovery solutions aren't just useful to protect from a massive-scale emergency; smaller disasters like server crashes, power outages, and simple user errors can wreak havoc at a company, resulting in downtime, frustration, lost money, and upset clients. Most businesses can't afford to come to a standstill for hours - or sometimes even days - at a time.
In Texas especially where we've seen an increase in tornadoes and extreme weather conditions, businesses and houses can easily be destroyed in minutes along with everything they contain. Don't wait for an emergency to happen, prepare now and enjoy peace of mind knowing your data and company is under virtual lock and key.
TYPES OF DISASTERS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES
As we come to rely more and more on technology to run our businesses, the effects of losing the data and files we depend on becomes catastrophic. Imagine losing all your client information and history, passwords, databases, financial records, emails - everything that makes up integral parts of your company.
Most people think of natural emergencies like fires or floods, but according to Timesavers International studies the most common catastrophe to hit a company is malware.
The United States is a top country for malicious activity and we see news reports almost daily of company breaches and attacks. There is no way to stop all malware and viruses with 100% certainty, and most businesses will be hit with at least one major infection or breach in their lifetime. This leads to some startling statistics:
- Over 90% of companies that lose their data centers for ten days or more file bankruptcy within one year of a disaster
- 50% of businesses that find themselves without data management for the same time period file bankruptcy immediately
- 60-70% of all problems that disrupt companies are due to internal malfunctions of hardware or software, or human errors that may lead to fraud
- 80% of businesses suffering a major disaster go out of business within three years, while 40% of businesses that suffer a critical IT failure go out of business within one year
- After being the victim of a fire, 44% of companies fail to reopen and 33% who do reopen don't survive beyond three more years
Even smaller scale emergencies can cause huge revenue losses; over 50% of businesses will experience an unforeseen interruption and the vast majority of those interruptions cause the business to be closed for one or more days.
While this isn't as extreme as completely going out of business, most organizations would suffer greatly from a forced closure and have many upset and possibly lost customers. And companies that don't have the ability to recover completely within ten days of being hit are not expected to survive.
By not preparing for any type of emergency with a backup and disaster recovery plan, you are gambling the very existence of your company. Statistic Sources
HOW TO CREATE A RECOVERY PLAN
While years ago the only viable option was to backup to physical storage mediums like tapes, there are now much more effective ways to protect your company from multiple angles.
Many organizations use both physical (hard drive, server, etc) backup locations and virtual cloud backups to ensure that whatever the situation their company is secure and ready to recover at a moment's notice.
However many companies fail to keep up with those backups, leading to 60% of backups being incomplete and 50% of restores failing when needed (Ontech). While having a solution is great, using and maintaining it properly is even more important.
The best way to begin is to assess your level of risk. This can be done by an outside IT company or internally if your organization has the capabilities. Find out the very minimum your company would need to operate and work from there to plan on protecting your entire business.
Also realize that data backup and disaster recovery are similar, but not the same thing.
Begin your plan with the end in mind - it is not enough to simply back everything up to a hard drive and call it good. In the event of an emergency, you'd also like everything to be restored as quickly as possible to be able to get back to business. Your backup and disaster recovery plan must account for this by having the right hardware, processes, and people involved.
Your recovery environment must also account for daily changes that happen in the business. If your backups haven't been updated since two years ago and your company's network/hardware fails, can you survive without anything that's been done in the last few years?
Backup and disaster recovery checklist
These questions from Microsoft will assist in mapping out your customized recovery plan of action:
How important is the data on your systems? The importance of data can go a long way in helping you determine if you need to back it up - as well as when and how it should be backed up. For critical data, such as a database, you'll want to have redundant backup sets that extend back for several backup periods. For less important data, such as daily user files, you won't need such an elaborate backup plan, but you'll need to back up the data regularly and ensure that the data can be recovered easily.
What type of information does the data contain? Data that doesn't seem important to you may be very important to someone else. Thus, the type of information the data contains can help you determine if you need to back up the data - as well as when and how the data should be backed up.
How often does the data change? The frequency of change can affect your decision on how often the data should be backed up. For example, data that changes daily should be backed up daily.
How quickly do you need to recover the data? Time is an important factor in creating a backup plan. For critical systems, you may need to get back online swiftly. To do this, you may need to alter your backup plan.
Do you have the equipment to perform backups? You must have backup hardware to perform backups. To perform timely backups, you may need several backup devices and several sets of backup media. Backup hardware includes tape drives, optical drives, and removable disk drives. Generally, tape drives are less expensive but slower than other types of drives.
Who will be responsible for the backup and recovery plan? Ideally, someone should be a primary contact for the organization's backup and recovery plan. This person may also be responsible for performing the actual backup and recovery of data.
What is the best time to schedule backups? Scheduling backups when system use is as low as possible will speed the backup process. However, you can't always schedule backups for off-peak hours. So you'll need to carefully plan when key system data is backed up.
- Do you need to store backups off-site? Storing copies of backup tapes off-site is essential to recovering your systems in the case of a natural disaster. In your off-site storage location, you should also include copies of the software you may need to install to reestablish operational systems.