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Guest Post: Setting up a Disaster Recovery Plan

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This guest post was provided by Sean McCreary on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. For more information about GFI business backup solution visit http://www.gfi.com/business-backup-software

When most companies think about disaster recovery, a variety of thoughts come to mind.  If you search for a definition of disaster recovery, you will get slightly different meanings depending on the source.  For the purpose of this article, I am referring to the recovery of a business from a disaster.  This definition encompasses more than just the recovery of IT services, infrastructure, data (information) and other technology resources of a company.  Disaster recovery must include preparing for and recovering from the loss of human resources, such as key employees of a business, and other essential resources that allow a business to function.

The principles laid out in this article will pertain to disaster recovery of the technology and information resources of a business but can and should be applied to the other essential resources of a business.  If all critical resources of a business are not included in the plan, the disaster recovery plan will not be effective.   For example, I have worked with a variety of small businesses over the years, and most are determined to deal with data or information backup with no thought of other disaster recovery needs.  Usually, though, after further assessment, the business finds that they also need to address recovery issues related to other segments of their business.  These include network and internet access and cross-training of employees to keep the business functioning if someone leaves.   Also, most businesses find they need to look at key suppliers and shipping channels so if there is a loss of one it will not affect the profitability of their business.  Obviously, there are a lot of things to think about when developing a disaster recovery plan.

Key Points for Disaster Recovery

How do you get to the point of being able to prepare and recover from a disaster that may affect your business?   Here are some essential steps to take to reach that point.

  1. Determine the threats or risks to your business – Some of these will be general in nature such as a natural disaster while others may be more specific to your particular industry.  Threats include tornadoes, fire, flood, virus infections, power outages, or simply the loss of a computer hard drive with critical information.  More complex threats may include a cyber attack by criminals trying to gain access to business accounts or an activist group trying to stop you from selling a certain product.
  2. Determine the essential elements of your business – These include information, hardware, software, suppliers, employees and other elements which are critical to the survival of your business.
  3. Locate all critical resources - This is especially important for information or data.  Many businesses don’t know where all the critical information that they use is kept.  Which server or computer is used to store this information?  Is there a current backup?  Where is the backup kept?  Would it be accessible during a disaster?  All these questions and more must be answered before an event actually occurs.
  4. Look at your current security measures being used to protect your company – How will these measures reduce the risk of a disaster or prevent one from occurring?  It is always more effective to prevent a disaster from occurring than to respond and recover from one.
  5. Determine costs – What are the costs to the company if a disaster does occur?  Per hour?  Per day, etc.?  Also, what will be the initial estimated costs to adequately prepare for a disaster?
  6. Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan – If the hard work is done in steps 1 – 5, developing a plan should not be as difficult.
  7. Test and maintain the Disaster Recovery Plan – Once the plan is developed, it must be tested to see if something has been missed and to find any glitches in the plan.  Also, a schedule should be set up to review and update the plan.  If the plan is not updated and tested on a regular basis, all efforts up to that point will have been wasted.

By thinking ahead and preparing, you and your business can be prepared to handle almost any disaster that you may face.  Remember the survival of your company is at stake.

This guest post was provided by Sean McCreary on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. For more information about GFI business backup solution visit http://www.gfi.com/business-backup-software

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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