Every business, no matter how large or small, must be prepared for disasters. If your business is not prepared, it could be permanently shut down if a disaster should strike. Malware, computer glitches, human errors, natural disasters, or other malfunctions can have fatal implications if the right measures are not in place to deal with them.

Statistics show that over 70% of organizations have experienced data loss. These studies also show that almost any business is vulnerable to data loss and that only 32% of organizations recover from disasters quickly, while 16% of organizations do not recover at all.

A disaster recovery plan is therefore essential and will ensure that the data helping to run your business is safe. However, almost 30% of organizations do not have a disaster recovery plan in place.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

In simple terms, a disaster recovery strategy is a detailed plan with effective measures that can be taken to recover the IT systems and data of your business, should a disaster occur. A good disaster recovery plan can help your business to continue functioning after a disaster has occurred.

To be effective, a disaster recovery plan must be put in place well in advance. All business processes must be precisely documented, and mitigation measures clearly outlined, so that your business does not need to close down if a disaster should occur.

A well-prepared and executed disaster recovery plan will keep your business safe from almost any disaster.

Why every small business should have a disaster recovery plan

The vast majority of companies in the USA are small businesses, with less than 50 employees. A good disaster recovery plan is necessary to ensure that these businesses survive after a disaster. If there is no recovery plan in place, it may not be possible to restore operations after a disaster occurs.

Step 1: perform a risk analysis for your business

The first step is to perform a detailed risk assessment to evaluate all risks, threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities that your company may have to deal with. The risk assessment will help the organization create an effective disaster recovery plan.

After completing the risk analysis, you also need a business impact analysis to document how the risks would affect your business operations. This analysis will determine the potential impact that disasters could have on your company.

During a business impact analysis, all business functions and technologies are documented. Then, their financial and operational effects on your business are identified, if they were to stop functioning.

This analysis will help you to create an order of events for restoring your business. The order of events will be listed based on the impact on your business functions.

The business must be seen as one unit so that the vital areas that will impact the continuity of an organization can be identified first.

Step 2: back up your data

Before you create a backup of your data, you must choose the location of the backups, the technology to use for the backups, and the time that will be needed for a full backup.

A great backup strategy is to create an image backup that is stored on-site, as this is the fastest way of getting all functions of your company back after a disaster. However, since some disasters can also affect your local backup, there should also be a secondary backup stored in a remote location.

A good disaster recovery backup creates a precise copy of your entire IT system, including all apps, the operating system, and all other data. This type of backup helps to recover data as fast as possible.

Since your IT system is constantly changing, you need to repeat disaster recovery backups regularly. A backup should be done before major changes are made to your system so that if something goes wrong, the entire system can be restored to its prior state.

Important files should also be backed up between disaster recovery backups. There are various types of file backups that can be used to backup important company files, either locally or remotely.

Step 3: set up the disaster recovery plan

No plan works for all companies. Every business must have a plan customized to meet its specific needs. But the steps listed below will help any organization create a disaster recovery plan adapted to their business structure.

The steps are as follow:

  1. Identify potential risks

  2. Define the most important elements of your business operations

  3. Define how those elements affect the operation of your business, and what impact their loss would have

  4. Create a disaster prevention plan

  5. Create a first response plan for disasters

  6. Create a full disaster recovery plan

Once you have created the disaster recovery plan, it’s essential to test it.

When a disaster recovery plan is at its inception phase, there may not be a need to document a response to every single threat that may occur. But you should start with those threats that will be fatal to the operations of your business, and/or the ones that are most likely to occur.

After you have addressed these threats, others can then be added for. Also, be very clear about documenting the exact steps and measures of your recovery strategy, so they can be easily implemented.

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