IT disaster recovery planning can be a big undertaking, with many scenarios to analyze and options to consider. Making sure that your business can get up and running as fast as possible after disaster strikes is key.
To begin, define what is important to keep the business running – for example: email and application access, database back-up, computer equipment – and the “recovery time objective” or how quickly the company needs to be up and running post-disaster. Other key plan components to consider are determining who within the organization declares the disaster, how employees are informed that a disaster has occurred, and the method of communication with customers to reassure them that the company can still service their needs. Here are seven basic but important steps to take:
Monitor the Plan. Once a disaster recovery plan has been established, it is critical to monitor the plan to ensure its components are implemented effectively. A disaster recovery plan should be updated frequently, as needed. Additionally, proactive ongoing monitoring and updating of processes results in fewer IT issues and less downtime should a crisis occur.
Test your Disaster Recovery Plan. An under-tested plan can sometimes be worse than having no plan at all. The effectiveness of the disaster recovery plan can only be assessed if rigorous testing is carried out one or more times per year in realistic conditions by simulating circumstances that would be applicable in an actual emergency. The testing phase of the plan must contain important verification activities to enable the plan to stand up to most disruptive events.
Perform off-site data back-up and storage. Any catastrophe that threatens to shutter a business is likely to make access to on-site data back-up impossible. The primary concerns for data back-up are security during and accessibility following a crisis. Every company should back-up its data at least once daily, typically overnight, but should strongly consider more frequent back-up or “continuous data protection” if warranted.
Back-up laptops and desktops. Although many companies have policies requiring employees to store all data on the company’s network, don’t assume that the policy is being followed. Backing up laptops and desktops protects critical data in the event of a lost, stolen or damaged workstation. Using an automatic desktop and laptop data protection and recovery solution is ideal.
Establish Redundancy. Establishing redundant servers for all critical data and providing an alternate way to access that data are essential components of an organization’s disaster recovery planning. Having these redundant services in place at a secure, offsite location can bring disaster recovery time down to minutes rather than days.
Install regular virus updates. IT infrastructure is one of those realities of business life that most companies take for granted. Companies often do not focus on email security until an incipient virus, spyware or malware wreaks havoc on employees’ desktops. Organizations need to protect its data and systems by installing regular virus pattern updates as part of disaster recovery planning, which may even help prevent a crisis from happening.
Consider hiring a managed services provider. For small- to medium-sized businesses, it is often cost prohibitive to implement a sound disaster recovery plan but a managed service provider (MSPs) like eGuard Tech Services is able to perform this role and provide the security and peace of mind you are looking for. By working with a professional outsourced IT Service provider you will have the technical support to design, implement and manage complex disaster recovery projects, as well as be sure to have the server, storage and network infrastructure in place to manage a true disaster recovery plan.