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9 Tips for Small Business Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery Plan written on a dart board

What is your Disaster Recovery Plan?

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!

How Can You Have A Successful Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) Plan?

Two businessmen looking at broken laptop, operating system crash - Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) Plan concept

How will your plan hold up in a disaster situation?

When it comes to back and disaster recovery(BDR), one of the keys to making sure your business is still being able to operate efficiently is being prepared for any natural disaster or event. Not only is it important to make sure you have a BDR plan you can trust, but it is also important to make sure you are able to go through a test run so you will always be two steps ahead.

Before any type of disaster ever occurs, we want you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I really need a backup and disaster recovery plan?
  • Am I currently using a backup and disaster recovery plan? When was the last time someone tested it?
  • How long does it usually take to recover data from the current backup solution?
  • When there is downtime, how much money could I lose?
  • What is the average downtime for my business after a disaster? Can I afford to be down this long?
  • If a disaster strikes, will there be other copies of my data in another location that I can access?

What’s The Problem?

Not every disaster is going to be the same, and this means not every recovery process will be the same. Before you take any action, we want you to understand all the issues surrounding the disaster and your data. How will all of these issues impact you? Is the current issue impacting one system or is it impacting the entire system? Do you have any files that have been deleted? Are any of your systems and servers down?

What Are Your Goals?

When it comes to a BDR solution and a simple backup of your data, the major difference in a BDR is its ability to actually recover. This is why it is so important to know what your disaster recovery goals are. Do you plan to restore only your data? Do you plan to restore only the system? Do you plan to restore both? How much time do you plan to spend on recovering files before the system recovery begins? Once you determine if you want to spend time on the recovery process, you will want to make sure you have identified the systems that are the most critical.

The Recovery

When you are walking down the recovery road, you should make sure you follow the proper procedures. Which recovery procedure do you plan to follow? We encourage you to follow the recovery procedure that will give you the best opportunity to reach the goals you have set, including file restoration.

Once you have verified the recovery, you should make sure that there is a positive interaction with the users by ensuring the network connectivity is working. You will need to make sure everyone is able to access the files, resources, and other applications. If you need to restore your business’s original system, you should carefully decide what process will be better.

After you have answered the questions and created a backup and disaster recovery plan, you should take a moment and think about the process. Did everyone handle the recovery process the way you hoped they would? Do you wish you could have done things differently?

After you have answered these additional questions, you should be able to determine what caused the failure and what things still need to be addressed and corrected. It can be a wise decision to make notes of what mistakes were made and what things can be done in the future to avoid these mistakes.

If you are looking for backup and disaster recovery solutions, we are more than happy to provide you with a variety of options that will protect your data, whether it is in the cloud or on-premise. Contact us today for more information on BDR solutions.

The Depths of Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster Recovery Plan shown on a dart board next to a laptop

Disaster Recovery Plan is key to your business success.

Data disaster recovery is something that every business should be prepared for. Even if your company is never attacked by a hacker or has to face a ransomware system-wipe, it’s important to have a plan in case of pure technical failures and mistakes.  You, at the very least, want version backed up version control for your central systems so that a new employee can’t lose a client’s information by accidentally zeroing the values. The ability to retrieve active data from a day or a week ago is undeniably useful. Of course, backing up your CRM and financial data on a weekly basis is only scratching the surface your disaster recovery depth potential. In an ideal recovery, you would be able to completely factory-reset every computer and device on the company network and reinstall your infrastructure, programs, and data all from a single comprehensive backup kept on the cloud so that local disasters can’t reach it.

Of course, the most practical way to store your backups is based on how frequently they’ll need to be updated or accessed. Things like your operating systems, system configurations, and program installations will only need to be changed when your IT team changes the infrastructure. Then there are big databases including things like client information and inventory that will be accessed and updated all the time. These should have at least recent version control recovery available along with a few periodic older backups. Finally, there are the items you want incredibly tight control over and track every single change along with who made it.

Surface Changes

Active projects, customer service conversation, and anything having to do with money needs to be tracked much more closely than normal backup procedures account for. This is where finely tuned version control comes in. Whether it’s for security or simple collaborative convenience, the most surface-level form of backup are fast-paced changes, sometimes hundreds a day, and often it’s as important to know who made a change as the change itself. These detailed ‘saves’ of your data can be finalized at, say, midnight every night and archived after a week or two.

Document Management Software

While it’s true that digital documents like forms and contracts are technically data, there is a functional difference between your business data and your online documents. For these, you want a high-quality document management system or DMS for short. While your best bet is a system made specifically for the needs of your industry, Google Docs is a good example of a basic DMS. More specialized versions will have faster and more convenient mobile and online access, sorting, permissions, and even digital signature authorization for quick and easy approvals between clients and business partners.

Database Backups

The most standard form of backup is the sort that is taken on schedule, archived on schedule, and almost never thought about. For most people, this is their favorite kind of backup because it can take care of itself with a simple automated program directed at the files you want saved. The easiest thing to back up are databases like the sort that hold customer login data, account information, sales histories, department budget reports, and so on. With an easy to set up backup system, you can allow each authorized employee to designate the files they’d like backed up regularly every night, week, or month.

The purpose of these backups is the core of your restoration plan. In theory, as long as you have your databases and active files backed up, you will be able to restore your business data infrastructure from a complete reinstall of all your enterprise management software on new or factory reset computers with a minimal amount of lost data.

The Deep Infrastructure Backup

Every time you think you have a complete recovery backup plan, remember that technology and achievement rely on innovation. Ask yourself how it could be better, how recovery could be faster, and how you can ensure that no data is lost or damaged in the recovery. One important answer to this question is an infrastructure backup. Normal backups assume that you may have to reinstall your operating system and programs but that’s okay, right? After all, these should all be readily available to you. The problems is if you had special configuration settings to make your settings or automations run correctly, these are harder to get back into place in a timely manner and there’s a possibility your IT team doesn’t have notes on all the changes that will need to be made.

A neat trick to ensure that your recovery is fast and efficient is to do a periodic deep backup of any system that has custom settings or that you want to be brought back online quickly in order to get your employees back in the saddle even before the full recovery is complete. Besides your central systems and network setup, if you have large sets of computers that all run the same setup like customer service workstations, you can take a single backup and restore all the endpoints from there. Just make sure you update your deep backups every time the infrastructure or configurations change.

Recovering After a Disaster

The best thing about having a truly comprehensive backup and recovery plan is that you can theoretically recover every important system in the company quick enough to get your employees back online and your business humming again within hours of a disaster or setup afterward. Ransomware, for instance, that infects your entire network can be effectively eradicated with a full factory reset and a reinstall from the deep backup to the databases right up to the most recent surface changes. For more advice and news on backups and recovery, contact us today!

Archives are Great, Backups are Better (Part 1)