As a modern business, you need your network, internet access, and business software. You need the servers to host data, the coffee machines to flow, and you need the constant current of electricity to the entire infrastructure to keep the lights and computers on. When something goes wrong from ransomware to hurricanes, it’s important to have a plan that will get everyone back online and work resumed as quickly as possible. This process is known as disaster recovery and is something that every business has to contend with. Without a disaster recovery plan, you’re at risk of being completely technologically wiped out by malware or a local natural disaster. With one, you could potentially have your employees set back up after a complete system wipe in less than two hours.
1) Identify Your Most Likely Risks
Every time you start building a disaster recovery plan, whether it’s your first plan or an update to one that’s been in place for a decade, it’s important to re-assess the possible risks. These days, you’re more likely to get phished by a hacker than hit by a hurricane, but let’s face it, mother nature has also been doing some serious damage lately. You’ll want a disaster recovery plan that assumes several different possible disasters including malware that must be wiped with a factory reset and small corrections as might be necessary to fix a data entry mistake. Build a plan based on each of the most likely disasters that could take out your IT infrastructure or damage files.
2) Conduct Vulnerability Management
Vulnerability management refers to the process of seeking out possible security holes and weaknesses in your infrastructure and closing them. One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster is to do your best to prevent it. Vulnerability management not only ensures that you close a few security holes with updates and patches, it also lets you know which security holes can’t be completely closed and will need to be guarded and planned for instead.
3) Plan Disaster Recovery from End to Beginning
When you’re building a disaster recovery plan, start with the results you want to see at the end of recovery. What state should the computers be in? Consider the possibility of starting from scratch and establish how much restoration is needed to get to that point for each device and network assets. Department computers will need specific software and possibly data loaded into them and your central network infrastructure may need both software and configuration settings re-established before it is fully restored. Define how much you need to be included in the recovery and then build the steps need to recover.
4) Prioritize Levels of Disaster Recovery
Of course, if recovery is going to take a few hours, the right prioritization can have strategic departments up and working faster than others. You can, for instance, prioritize to get the customer service team back online first and answering client questions about the service outage or prioritize getting your machinery back online if you handle manufacturing or run tests for clients. By prioritizing, you can get the most possible work out of a disaster recovery day and ensure that your return to functionality is as smooth as possible.
5) Keep the Recovery Plan Current
Disaster recovery plans are very specific to the software, data, and backup protocols that are in place when the plan is formed. If your infrastructure, configurations, or backup schedule are changed in any way, your disaster recovery plan is outdated which could leave the company vulnerable. It is vital that your backup recovery plans are kept completely current and updated every time a change is made to something that will need to be recovered into the new state.
6) Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan Regularly
When talking about the security of your company data and technical infrastructure, you can’t simply trust that a plan works simply because you put it together. Just as you would need to test a new product or appliance before relying on it, a disaster discovery plan also needs to be tested. Make sure that you can restore your computers to full or desired function before relaxing and continue to run regular tests to ensure that no small change has compromised your plan’s effectiveness.
7) Get Top Management Involved
All too often, a security or IT solution is implemented for everyone except top management who seem to float above the normal power responsibility hierarchy. However, if a company is going to be completely secure, everyone needs to get involved. Make sure that top management understands the disaster recovery plan and the right people are ready to lead implementation should they be the highest authority on site when a disaster strikes. This way, recovery plans will both be more thoroughly upheld and more effectively implemented when necessary.
8) Write a Disaster Recovery Guide
Once you have the entire disaster recovery plan plotted out from beginning to end, write a guide that uses the simplest possible terms to explain how to implement the plan. This ensures that no matter what bizarre circumstances a disaster might occur in, including the possibility of a skeleton holiday crew and a new-years malware attack, that backup recover can be put into action. The guide also serves as a fallback plan in case the disaster recovery plan designer is not available when a disaster occurs.
9) Run Regular Response and Recovery Drills
Finally, often the most effective disaster recovery involves the coordinated efforts of whole teams. When every employee knows how to reload their system from the cloud backup, you can even trust them to maintain local units because they can always restore to default. If you want to get your entire office back online in the shortest possible time, train your team thoroughly in how to respond to a disaster. This is a great way to run disaster recovery tests and train everyone in quick disaster response in one unifying company event.
Having a variety of disaster recovery plans with a strong basis in cloud backups and practiced recovery procedures is the key to getting your business back on its feet after any kind of disaster. Whether you’ve been targeted by a hacker or a natural disaster takes out your office, the right disaster recovery plan can have you up and running in a matter of hours. For more great tips and tricks on small business disaster recovery techniques, contact us today!