If recent events have shown anything, it’s that disaster can strike anytime. While hurricane warnings provide most areas a few days to prepare their property, many businesses do not have adequate time to plan for disaster recovery before the storm arrives.

Disaster recovery must be planned well in advance while the luxury of time is still available for calm, rational thought.

Disasters are not just those Mother Nature metes out. They may also include ransomware attacks, terrorist attacks, human error, and other damaging events, such as fire.

In today’s digital world, disaster recovery can be quicker and easier than when paper was the only medium for documentation. However, the sheer amount of data has expanded significantly, creating the need to protect it and plan for recovery in the event of loss.

Even though the data and the applications used to store and manipulate data are no longer paper and mechanical devices, the system is no less vulnerable to the ravages of water, fire, and explosive or seismic destruction.

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Traditional Disaster Recovery

Before computerization, many companies with documentation-heavy practices tried to keep their data safe by storing it in boxes off-site, in a warehouse near enough to access quickly but separate from the main business buildings. This was the limit to the disaster recovery efforts.

As computerization began, the practice of creating a duplicate system that could replace applications and data was the norm. Systems were smaller and easier to duplicate. Off-site storage was in its infancy, and an effort was made to place applications and data in two separate geographic regions to increase the chances of at least partial recovery.

Now it has become too expensive to duplicate an entire business system, applications, and data. Maintaining both systems and testing failovers regularly would be simply too costly. That is why advance planning for disaster recovery is more relevant than ever before.

Begin with a Risk Assessment

A risk assessment identifies the conditions or situations that may cause a business process outage as well as calculating the probability of each risk occurring. Every type of threat is considered:

  • Human
  • Technological
  • Natural
  • Chemical
  • Biological
  • Other

Once the risks are identified, processes for preventing or mitigating the impact or outage are developed. A risk assessment should be carried out even if a disaster recovery plan is not on the agenda. The information could support and convince those in charge that a creating such a plan should be a high priority project.

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

Using the information from the risk assessment, determine the best method for mitigating each risk. The most common risk is loss of data and applications. There are now companies called backup providers that store data and applications in the cloud or remotely, accessible through an internet browser or by download into new equipment.  An appropriate backup provider offers 24/7 support over the phone, email, chat, and/or online knowledgebase. Some provide version tracking and email alerts along with reporting tools.

It is vital that your data is secure from end to end and that the company performs regular failover testing to ensure you can get your data restored in case of disaster. Select a provider with an established customer base that is financially stable and has proven infrastructure. Third party validation and accreditation plus encryption and key management may also be critical to your business.

DRaaS vs. Colocation

DRaaS, or Disaster Recovery as a Service is a cloud-based recovery solution that replicates your systems as virtual machines and sometimes on physical servers. Generally, DRaaS is affordable. The expense is minuscule compared to the cost of data and business loss.

Colocation is provided by storing your information in a physical data center, where the key elements of stability include connectivity, power, cooling, cabling, and internet connectivity.

It’s easy to think that there is a low probability of a particular disaster that could impact your business, but a disaster recovery plan is insurance against damage. Just as you insure physical assets against loss, you must prepare to recover your data and applications in the event of a disaster as well. Your insurance company may not cover it.