‘Disaster’ – the word is just enough slip a breath. Imagine, if this word gets associated with Business, blood starts gushing speedily through the heart. What if it happens in real? Can’t or rather don’t want to imagine, right?
To bring your business to a mounting point takes great efforts and also long time. When any disaster hits a business, its consequences may be devastating. According to a study, 87% of companies that lose access to their corporate data for more than seven days go out of business within a year. Disasters can be termed under three categories – natural (hurricanes & earthquakes), technological failures and human (purposely or accidently). But this doesn’t matter at that point, since recovering from the disaster and bringing it back to normal is a paramount.
Though there isn’t a 100% failsafe solution to business disasters, yet according to most IT executives and data management experts, there are certain steps that organizations can adopt to protect and recover data. Today, businesses generate a large volume of data than the past. This isn’t a coincidence that IT hasn’t been as critical to the success of small business as it is today. It’s fortunate that per-gigabyte cost of hard disk drives and associated storage devices has never been so low, while the innovation of technology like the cloud storage has provided even bigger opportunities to opt more for less.
What are the essential precautions that companies should take to protect their data in event of disaster? There are several tools and applications that help in disaster recovery and business continuity. But here is a list of top 10 solutions for disaster-proofing your data –
Cloud Services –
Nothing can be as best as storing your data in the cloud, a copy of your backup is always stored safely and can be accessed from anywhere. Select a mature cloud provider who holds a good track record for reliability, it will ensure that data is available whenever required. Some cloud providers use innovative storage techniques to reduce storage and operational costs. Though opting for such techniques isn’t a wrong method but as per proper business sense, tried and tested methods of data backups are always recommendable. Significantly, you should scramble data with robust encryption before trusting any external services for safety. If your business deals with large files, make sure to confirm that you have sufficient Internet bandwidth to back up your data online.
Conduct a Data Assessment –
You need to conduct data assessment, that means learn where your high-value data assets – customer information and sensitive data as well as files used heavily are kept. In addition, check on who and which department is handling such files. By using your own intelligence and data classification, you can decide on which data is important to keep on hand after disaster and who will be accessible to it. Since all data isn’t created equally, it’s lavish to ensure that every piece of data is always available. Businesses can work as per the 80/20 rule i.e. it can be decided whether the 20% data is critical to be protected.
Offline Media for Storage –
If you don’t trust cloud services then external hard drives or storage tapes are best options for you. They are portable and can be moved to an offsite location where you don’t need to worry about attacks or hackers. Sneakernet strategy also works best for storing data backup offline as it can work with traditional data backup software. Tape drives act as direct-attached storage (DAS) services and so, businesses that operate more than one server may require additional software and configure their network perfectly to take backup from several machines. If storage requirement is medium or small then recordable optical disc media – DVD or Blu-ray discs may also prove beneficial in terms of storage space as well as cost because they are less expensive in comparison to tape drives when purchased in quantity.
Work with a trusted partner to disaster proof data systems –
You need to shake hands with a trusted partner to make sure your solutions meets your business requirements as well as the capabilities of your IT department. Choose integrated appliance solutions to avoid complexity, remotely managed backup solutions to lessen the operational impact and risks as well as internal DR sites and DR providers that comprise both on-premise and cloud recovery options.
Appoint a disaster recovery team –
Develop a team of employees who are aware of the emergency situations and can provide solutions by assessing damages and implementing recovery plans after the disaster. Appoint one person from each department of business. In addition allocate a leader who will develop, manage and update your disaster recovery plan.
Create a disaster recovery plan and test it –
Your disaster recovery plan should represent all functional areas included within IT prior to, during and after the disaster. Four vital elements – applications, networks, servers and storage are a must to be included in the plan. Consider contingencies like what-if scenarios as a part of planning process. You also need to decide on levels of disruption that will lead to downtime, disaster and loss tolerances. Here is an example of some of the things that should be included in the disaster recovery plan –
Information Technology Statement of Intent – For setting stage and direction for the plan.
Policy Statement – Significant to include an approved statement of policy that will provide disaster recovery services.
Objectives – Goals of the plan.
Key Personal Contact Information – It is the information that is likely to be used immediately and should be easy to search.
Don’t Miss on to Document Downtime Events –
Downtime events are minor and so can be quickly and easily sorted. It’s similar to an ongoing snapshot on your network. But since all these events provide valuable lessons a record is required to be kept to help assess the status quo and to enable a fact-based discussion with management.
Regularly Backup and snapshot data –
If you don’t plan a strategy for automatic regular backups then nothing is going to work. Even if you’ve automated the process, it’s a good virtue to go back and cross-validate for whether the expected backup was rightly executed. Use at least Raid Level 5 for ensuring data duplication ensures fault tolerance. Build the most possible level of redundancy in your system to eliminate a single point of failure. This comprises of a multi-path data route to the system to access data via other path even if one of them fails.
Run a mock Recovery at least once a year –
Similar to testing your backups, you should run a mock test of your complete recovery plan to find out whether it works or not. Involve all in your business in this test and use your actual backups for restoring so that everyone will learn about the process and be prepared to take initiative when recovery is actually required.
Go Beyond Technology –
May it be a small or a large business, both miss out on one point of disaster recovery and that is going beyond technology. This includes having a diesel generator on site with enough fuel for several days or a creative thing like a motor home with double the capacity as an emergency center. Such vehicles generally include their own generator and wireless internet connection.
Ultimately, businesses with critical data should follow the 2 plus 1 rule. Three copies of data stored on two different kinds of media and one stored with one of them stored offsite. It is not possible to completely prevent your business data from disaster but these are some precautions that can be taken to avoid risks of losing it. Though it may cost you great deal of money at first but surely will help to save money to recover the data after disaster.