According to recent studies, 4 out of 10 businesses fail to reopen after a disaster event happens to them, while as much as 90% of these companies go under within the following 2 years. These numbers speak volumes about the fact that companies must up their game in terms of system security and data backups.
Perhaps the most relevant step toward achieving this is creating an effective and sound disaster recovery plan.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan and Why do I need it?
Essentially, a disaster recovery plan is a procedure for backing up your data systems so your sensitive and less sensitive data and documents are not destroyed beyond retrieval when a disaster event takes place.
It is not a complex procedure, but it does include detailed research and a multifaceted approach to its creation process.
Businesses should have a strong disaster recovery plan in place in order to achieve a carefree working environment and have a streamlined workflow that is downtime-proof so all your teams can quickly and easily resume their projects and operations even if a disaster event hits causing system failure or data loss.
That being said, here are some basic but surefire tips on how to create a strong and effective disaster recovery plan.
Perform Risk Analysis
The very first step should be to perform risk analysis by determining which applications, servers, and other assets are crucial for your business. You need to identify which systems, data, and operations must be thoroughly protected, and then think about what the best way of protecting those is and how you can make it happen.
Also, be sure to determine what the potential threats these assets may be vulnerable to, and once these tasks have been properly taken care of, you can work on your disaster plan action protocols.
Determine Your Minimal Downtime & Recovery Point Objective
You must set a reasonable timeframe during which your team should be able to put your vital business operations, apps, and systems back online.
Additionally, make sure that your disaster recovery plan also includes a recovery point objective by determining what type of data and how much of it your business can withstand losing so its critical projects and processes do not fail completely.
Have an Effective Data Replication & Retrieval Strategy in Place
Most disaster recovery plans include data replication and retrieval strategy that involves physical or cloud-based backups and data retrieval systems. Physical servers give the user more control over their data and mitigate the need for 3rd-party entities to get involved in your data safety program. They also, however, bring more work in terms of maintenance and cost-efficiency as they lack all the advantages of scalable pay-as-you-go infrastructure models.
Cloud solutions, on the other hand, are much more scalable, accessible, and budget-friendly, especially in the long run, but they do often bring 3rd-party vendors into the mix, which can be a deal-breaker for some organizations.
When you plan your strategy for data safety and retrieval, it is inevitable to secure your email-based data and documents as well. This step includes investing in email archiving solutions so your emails and all those sensitive pieces of information that live there are always accessible and safe. Having a proper email retention policy is also vital in order to stay compliant with all the necessary rules and standards for retaining relevant data.
All these aspects of data replication and retrieval play important roles in solving potential disaster- or legal-based issues your business may face.
Make Sure to Perform Frequent Testing Exercises
Every single strategy, regardless of its end goal or niche, should be thoroughly and frequently tested in order to work properly. Whether it is a marketing, business or security-focused plan, a company must first test it to see if it will work and if there is room for improvement (which is almost always the case).
It’s the same with your disaster recovery strategy. If you want it as effective and reliable as possible, your DR plan should involve multifaceted testing. Here are some aspects of testing that you should (at least) consider:
- Determine and test the minimal functionality levels for your DR plan to work
- Determine and test the amount it takes for your systems to recover after the simulation starts
- Determine regular updates for your disaster recovery plan (this is extremely important for when your organization starts to grow or certain data privacy or retention laws change, which they often do)
- Update and test your plan every single time there’s a big change or update within your infrastructure, apps, systems, operations, etc.
Over to you
Each and every company should make sure their disaster recovery plan is on point and consistently updated, regardless of the industry a business belongs to or the size of its infrastructure or staff. You need to be able to react quickly and effectively in case your business faces a disaster event that can cause potentially irreversible damage to your sensitive data or your critical systems.
With a proper DR plan in place, a company is capable of bouncing back without any major losses or risks of going under.
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