September is National Preparedness Month. A major part of preparedness is having a proper disaster recovery plan. For companies of any size, downtime or a loss of critical data can be expensive, damaging, or even the end of a business. And at some point, history shows that most businesses will experience a loss of data or some disruption to their operations.
It’s easy to become complacent in your business, so we wanted to highlight this month as an opportunity to raise awareness regarding your backup and disaster recovery plans. Below are a few questions every business should ask itself to ensure they are fully prepared to protect their business from disaster.
1. How frequently are your backups running and how extensively are you backing up? What is the right plan for your business?
In our conversations with many businesses, we are continually surprised at how infrequent organizations backup their data. Many simply run backups once per week. Imagine what this could mean for a business where new transactions and files are created by the hour? If a failure occurs at 3pm on a Friday and the backups run at 11pm on Sunday, an entire week of business could be lost. Conversely, other businesses may not need to backup frequently. We often save customers money by aligning backup schedules with their business cycles.
Bottom line, it’s all about what is right for your specific business, and this applies how much is being backed up, too. Are the right files being backed up or just the ones that were deemed “the important ones” when the schedule was originally established? Are all servers being addressed or just some servers? Does your plan cover all types of files or just data files? The right answers will vary, but these are the questions to consider in ensuring your plan is the right one for your business. And now is a great time to do it!
2. How long will it take your business to recover, and from what point will it recover?
Many providers offer multiple recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) options. You should be aware of any number of factors that play in to these, including:
- What’s available given the replication offering you’re using,
- Whether or not your hardware warranties are current and what they cover, and
- How you’ve structured your associated repair time window
You’ll also want to consider how much data would need to be restored due to a failure – a few files or an entire server? Is it an option for your business to continue to run while the server is either restored to the recovery point or replaced? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, where would your business be if a failure happened today?
3. Do your backups run correctly? When is the last time they were tested?
Although your plan may seem well designed on paper, it is important to actually test it out to see if it runs how you intended. Although it can be potentially disruptive, you don’t want the first test of the system to be the first real failure. It’s important to evaluate and correct any deficiencies now so your support staff can implement everything correctly when necessary. There are different scenarios we can discuss that can help to minimize the impact of testing on daily operations.
There are many more questions you should ask yourself and/or your DR provider, but these are a few that we feel passionately about when advising businesses on how to prepare and protect their data. If you’re at all unsure about your current disaster recovery plan, we’d love to talk it through with you and make sure you’re fully covered, or show you where you might be able to save some resources. As always, we’re happy to answer any questions in the comments below or just give us a call!