Every business IT plan needs a tested strategy for IT disaster recovery, including backup. Here’s what you need to know about how IT disaster recovery is different from data backup, why your business needs both, and how to get started.  

What a Data Backup Does

Data backups are critical so you can restore what you need, when you need it, on hardware that is otherwise functioning normally.  This can range from the ability to restore one file that gets deleted by mistake to restoring the entire network including operating systems and software applications.  Backups can be onsite, offsite, or both depending on your needs.

Best practices are to regularly test the backup to make sure that it’s working properly and that the data captured on the backup can be restored.  Your IT provider can help.

Why Data Backup Alone Isn’t Enough

Data backup can be set up many different ways and often only backs up files (Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc.).  The operating system and actual software applications that run your network may not be backed up at all. 

So, if the server is damaged beyond repair, it’s going to take a while to get the network up and running again, and that’s assuming that your backups are regularly tested and that the most recent backup is good.

Without an IT disaster recovery plan, if your only backup is at your office and your office is inaccessible, you’re stuck. 

What an IT Disaster Recovery Plan Does

A disaster recovery plan allows you to get your business up and running after a catastrophic event, including extreme weather or another situation that damages your hardware beyond repair.  This means having an off-site full system backup (not just data only), the ability to select and get new hardware quickly, and the expertise to install the hardware and recreate the network.

In Northeast Ohio, our greatest concerns for natural disasters are tornados or severe winter storms. But what if the “disaster” is smaller, like a rainstorm that knocks power out at your office for a few days and you can’t get in? What would be expected of your employees? How would your customers be affected? It’s important to think through these scenarios in advance.

Tips to Get Started with Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan

  • Know what you have on-premise.  Create and maintain a current inventory of all hardware and software applications located in your office. 
  • Know what you access from the cloud. One significant benefit of cloud applications is the ability to access your data from anywhere on any device. This is a huge advantage if you can’t gain entry into your office.
  • Backup your data and schedule test restores.  This is only a part of your overall planning, but it’s an important part. Implement regular data backups and maintain complete system backups.  Conduct regularly-scheduled test restores to insure the quality of the backup and restored data. Consider offsite backups for speed and ease of recovery. 
  • Create a timetable for restoration.  How long can you afford to be down?  You’ll need to restore hardware, applications and data in time to meet the needs of your overall business recovery plan. Your IT provider can help determine the best backup and restoration plan for you.
  • Remember that IT disaster recovery planning is not “set it and forget it.” Review and update your plan at least once a year.

If you don’t have a plan, start developing one now.  It’s never too late! For more on IT disaster recovery planning, visit http://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/IT.

It’s important to have an IT disaster recovery plan to help protect your business.  Of course, no one wants to have to implement such a plan, but having one could save your business in case of a catastrophic loss. 

If your business needs help managing IT, contact CRU Solutions.