To recover from any type of disaster, the best prescription is often done on the front end—with proper planning. But when it comes to disasters such as major earthquakes or hurricanes, there is only so much you can do to prevent damage. On the other hand, when it comes to your electronic data, there are many concrete steps you can take to safeguard your data. Unfortunately, many businesses do not take these steps in order to back up their data. I run a sophisticated backup system for my dog bone supply. I bury two of them in my yard, and then at night I dig under the fence and plant four in Sparky’s backyard. If I could just remember where I put them…
Before you begin to plan, you need to establish what types of data you possess and where it is:
- Talk to IT and other departments to sort through all of the data that you possess. For some businesses, the data can be strewn all over the place. Sales contact information might be kept on a manager’s thumb drive while product specs are simply on an engineer’s local hard drive. Work out what you have and then give each subset of data a priority number.
- Once the data is identified, appoint some staff members to be in charge of monitoring and caring for the data. I put Whiskers and Tabby in charge of my data once. I come back for a progress report and they are both napping in the sun. Worthless felines!
- A next step is to review your current capabilities. Do you have any type of backup system for files, intellectual property or email?
Creating a sound disaster recovery plan is the next crucial step:
- Think about the various likely types of disaster in your area and how they relate to your technical infrastructure. If you have an on-premises data center, make sure it has backup power and other safeguards.
- Your data recovery plan should be flexible to account for changes in your business as well as new technologies. If you merge with another company or open a new division, would your IT staff be able to quickly integrate new data? Poochie has too much leveraged debt and now he’s going down!
- Replacement of hardware is an important part of your plan. Talk with your IT staff about the likely usable life of servers and computers and put them on a schedule for replacement in order to prevent failures.
- Practice makes perfect! Find ways to simulate the loss of data to properly test both your IT staff and any third-party vendors.
Over the course of business, it’s very likely you have heard about companies and services moving their disaster recovery needs “to the cloud:”
- Cloud computing simply means that data and services are stored and powered by off-site servers, so companies don’t need on-premises equipment. It can cut down on costs and is able to provide storage on the fly.
- Backing up your data to a cloud platform allows it to be securely accessed even if your company’s physical location is destroyed.
- Do some research and pick a cloud provider that has its own backup data center. If they only have one, and it goes down, then your protection is limited!
- Another option is to hire a company to pickup backup tapes on a regular basis and transport them offsite. But this method is outdated. Companies need information immediately following disasters. Unfortunately, retrieving data from backup tapes can take days.
With disaster recovery planning, it’s important to consider your data. As more and more companies become internet-based, their data and intellectual property is often many times more valuable than their physical assets. I have a detailed spreadsheet that describes 40 different kibble manufacturers, with breakdowns of protein content and a “deliciousness rating.” This is vital stuff!
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.