With every passing year, cybersecurity concerns and business continuity are becoming more and more inseparable as cyberattacks and data breach incidents regularly disrupt or even bring down organizations of all sizes. No matter the size of your business, you can't afford to do without a solid backup strategy.
We're not just talking about facing cyber threats — there are several reasons why you need a disaster recovery plan. Think about natural disasters like fires or floods, human errors, service outages, and hard drive failures. Such events are impossible to predict and if you aren't prepared, the consequences could be alarming.
There are various elements that make up a good disaster recovery plan, including cloud backups, data replication, and failover sites, all of which require detailed planning. If you don't have a backup plan yet, follow these best practices to draft a robust disaster recovery plan.
#1. Assess impact
It's virtually impossible to gauge the type of disaster recovery strategy you need without a detailed understanding of how an unplanned outage would affect your company. How can you assess the impact of prolonged downtime?
Start by identifying the most critical business activities and functions and put a dollar amount on how much money you would lose if they were knocked out. For example, if you didn't have access to email for a day, how many new and existing clients would you lose? The goal is to set a recovery time objective, which should help you zero in on which IT systems need to be restored for you to resume normal operations.
#2. Evaluate multiple scenarios
Assessing specific risks is an area where owners and managers can get slowed down. To avoid this, focus on a combination of the most likely and catastrophic disasters your business faces. Include threats that are specific to your location or your industry vertical.
For example, healthcare organizations in Connecticut must have robust hurricane response plans in place, as well as specific procedures to prevent the exposure of patient data.
You may want to consider partnering with a certified IT solutions consultant to help with your disaster recovery planning.
#3. Develop recovery strategy
Once you understand the risks you face and the impacts of a disaster, a recovery plan can be created to prevent and mitigate losses. The best place to start is with the existing contingencies or redundancies that are already in place.
If you have data backup solutions, test them out. If you don't have a backup plan, contact an outsourced IT support provider ASAP. Remember, though, that there is no single most effective method for backing up data, as each approach has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
External devices such as USB drives often make for the cheapest and simplest way to backup data. However, these devices could get lost, stolen, or damaged. For example, if your office is destroyed by a fire similar to the one that broke out in Stratford this summer, your data will be lost.
Your data is much safer in the cloud, but only if it's stored properly. Setting up cloud backups on your own is difficult and ultimately costs more than outsourcing the project to a provider. Companies like Charles IT can set up solutions that create new backups every 15 minutes and restore them in under half an hour.
The important thing is that whether in the cloud or hard drives in your office, your backups must follow the 3-2-1 rule: at least three copies, in two different formats, with one of those copies off-site.
#4. Test and document the plan
At a high level, your disaster recovery plan should outline the priorities for system recovery and other technical recovery procedures. But you also need someone to get their hands dirty testing the nitty gritty details of your plan. Keep in mind that every time you test your recovery procedures, you can identify the gaps and improve your strategy from there.
#5. Routinely update your plan
No plan is bulletproof. Be sure to revisit your plans and update them accordingly. If you relocate, you'll need to create a new risk assessment plan. The same goes for your infrastructure. Make sure everything is regularly updated and your business remains compliant.
The subject of backup planning is often framed in the context of large enterprises, but having a disaster recovery plan is every bit as important for small businesses and sometimes, even more so. Given the pattern of increasing data breaches and extreme weather events, you need to ensure that your business has a reliable disaster recovery plan in place and that your team and staff are well-trained for when the time comes.
Contact us today about a business impact assessment conducted by our technicians, just for you.