Is your Business Prepared for a Disaster?

Would your business survive a disaster?

There are many important business considerations for disaster planning. While disaster type, probability, and severity will vary from business to business, the importance of preparing and planning for minor and major business interruptions is uniformly critical.

Many businesses forgo or defer disaster recovery and/or business continuity planning on the basis that the likelihood of a disaster is small and they’ll deal with it when it happens. Unfortunately, the consequences can prove far more severe than short-term downtime and lost sales revenue.

Business relationships can be destroyed and customers lost if they are able to continue business with competitors who were better prepared. Damage to your hard earned business reputation and credibility can prove ruinous. Social media, aided by your competitors, will ensure that the market and prospective customers are fully aware of even the most minor interruptions and reliability issues.

You should reflect on potential scenarios and their consequences. What would happen if a key employee took sick or unexpectantly left? Could you survive the loss of your computers or other equipment if they were damaged or stolen? How would you recover your business data and software applications in the event of a hard disk crash or virus attack? What would you do if your power, mail, courier, internet, or phone services were interrupted?

You should also understand the differences between disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Disaster recovery is one element of business continuity. Disaster recovery typically has a technological
focus and is concerned with the recovery of your business data, software, hardware, and communications. In contrast, business continuity is much broader and addresses the recovery of all aspects of your business operations including human resources, communications, business processes, safety, and, if necessary, office relocation.

Some of the many disaster recovery planning factors that you should consider are outlined below:

Disaster Recovery Planning

Data and Software Backups

  • Ensure your business data is backed up on redundant internal and/or
    external hard drives.
  • Ensure your business data is backed up both onsite and offsite.
  • Schedule data backups as frequently as is practical.
  • Investigate and employ, where practical, cloud (web-based) services.
  • Protect your software applications with backups, disk imaging,
    and license tracking.
  • Test data backups on a semi-annual basis to validate that
    data can be successfully restored.

Hardware Backup

Ensure that you can recover your business applications and systems on backup hardware:

  • Define and document a plan for on- and off-site system recovery (fail-over).
  • If affordable, mirror your systems offsite using either company or third-party
    hardware.
  • If mirroring is unaffordable, identify the hardware and location on which systems would
    be recovered.
  • Test and validate both on- and off-site system recovery on an annual
    basis.

Document Critical Information

Ensure that you document all the information that you are going to need to
recover your systems:

  • Make, model, and warranty information of all your computers and
    peripherals.
  • Account names and passwords for online services, desktop operating
    systems, applications, ISP account, wireless router, networks, and BIOS.
  • Software license information including a list of all installed software,
    versions, and license and activation keys for reinstallation.
  • Network settings including IP addresses, gateways, firewall rules, DNS
    and domain information, server and printer names.
  • Mail client configuration and information.
  • Support phone numbers for all hardware and software.