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At one stage or another, every company is prone to data loss, whether they are big or small. You may try to deny that it will ever happen to your business, but you would be mistaken. Be it flooding, fallen trees or otherwise, things can go wrong for anyone. Therefore, Disaster Recovery (DR) is pretty important. It is your business’ insurance policy that protects it against any unforeseen incidents that could otherwise derail it and cause accidental data loss.

That being said, here are 11 things that you need to know to prepare for unexpected disaster:

1. Cloud DR is the way forward

Traditional disaster recovery services replicate the application state between two data centres, so a backup site could take over and activate a new replica of the application using the most recently copied data. Nowadays though, if your applications are already running in a virtualised environment, then cloud-based disaster recovery can be a viable alternative. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a cloud-based way to replicate infrastructure, applications and data for full system recovery. Backing up to the cloud is a relatively simple way to ensure data can be restored in the event of disaster. So, if you want a stress-free disaster recovery plan, then look to the cloud. With its secure, off-site location, it can give you added peace of mind.

2. Accidents will happen

When most businesses think of disaster, they consider more large-scale issues such as fires and earthquakes. Usually though, smaller everyday incidents can cause an equal amount of damage and leave you with downtime that can be costly in terms of lost revenue. When it comes to the DR plan, you shouldn’t discount issues such as insider theft or cyber-attacks. You really never know when a rogue squirrel is going to bring your operations to a standstill.

crashImage source – Berny Steiner

These scenarios could impact your business more than you can imagine and could lead to major issues if not properly considered.

In fact, 43% of businesses that experience a disaster never reopen and only 6% survive long-term when they don’t have a DR plan.

3. Foresight is better than hindsight

Protecting data takes meticulous planning and monitoring. It is too late to consider a Disaster Recovery plan once the disaster has already occurred. DR plans are therefore well worth the time invested in them and having a post-crisis recovery procedure should be a top priority.

4. You need to continuously test and update your DR plan

There’s no point having a detailed DR plan if it doesn’t actually work or you can’t get back online quick enough to avoid reputational damage.

You could also incur legal penalties for not delivering on service level agreements and lose business opportunities.

Therefore, how long you experience downtime for can make a huge difference for a business. Regular testing can ensure that your plan is right for your business and allows you to tweak it if not. On that note, you should update your plan at least once a year or whenever you make any modifications or changes in hardware, software, servers or otherwise.

5. Cover all bases

Business owners often don’t realise the vast amount of important data that they actually have. Although critical documents that hold sensitive information are usually the top priority, when writing your DR plan you also need to account for critical business system functions too. These could include Accounting/Finance, Human Resources or Marketing processes.

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6. DR plans come in all shapes and sizes

Every business should have a Disaster Recovery plan but no single DR plan will suit every business. Your DR plan can’t just be a template you found online with your details filled into it or dispensed from a vending machine. This is because every business will have varied storage priorities, data capacity requirements and aspirations regarding business growth.

For this reason, only a fully-customised DR plan, which accounts for your business and its specific objectives, can ensure that your business is prepared for the worst case scenario. This is best achieved when you work with an established partner such as Veber, as we can help you create and implement the plan based upon years of experience.

7. DR plans aren’t just about backup

Obviously backup and recovery services are the main element of any successful disaster recovery plan, but they’re not the only element. Whilst regularly backing up your business-critical data is vital, your DR plan should also be scalable to meet your business’ changing requirements. You also need to prioritise the backup processes in the event of data breach or disaster.

8. Stick to the script

Your Disaster Recovery plan should include a thorough script. After a disaster, it can cause confusion and disorder. Having a detailed script with step-by-step instructions can make the recovery process smoother and less stressful. Make sure that the script has been formally approved by members of the DR team and has a simple, easy-to-follow flow, preferably with bullet points. As DR plans are usually followed in times of stress or against the clock, they should also be written so that shorthand or technical jargon are omitted from the instructions to simplify matters.

9. How is it activated?

When a DR plan needs to be activated, response time must be immediate and efficient. Once a potential triggering event has been acknowledged, your Disaster Recovery Coordinator should be notified, and the DR team can then be alerted and evaluation steps initiated. Once it is assessed that the activation criteria have been met, your DR plan will be activated.

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10. Knowing when to invoke it is harder than you think

After going to all the effort of developing a detailed, flawless DR plan, it would seem that it may be obvious when to invoke it. However, activating a DR plan often isn’t an easy call to make. Your incident response team will have to determine whether it best to switch over to the DR site or to wait.

Disaster Recovery as a Service can help with this decision-making process, as a DR plan is more likely to be better-equipped to deal with a multitude of incidents and this can make businesses less hesitant to invoke DR.

11. What makes a good DR plan?

A good DR plan includes the following:

  • Allocated roles and responsibilities – This section identifies the DR team members and their main duties.
  • Incident Response – This section contains instructions for employees to remain vigilant of potential issues, assess the situations and develop an appropriate response to minimise damage.
  • Plan activation – If the Incident Response stage hasn’t managed to contain the situation then this section specifies which disaster recovery plan to implement.
  • Procedure: This section will detail response and recovery methods and the steps that member so the DR team need to follow to restore data and infrastructure.

In summary, to develop a good DR plan you must consider many different aspects and ensure that you regularly test and change the plan to make sure that it is best-suited to your business.

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