How to Protect Your Business from a Data Disaster

Disaster Recovery Plan

Did you know that 93% of all businesses that don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place when they experience a data disaster go out of business within a year of that disaster? And yet, 68% of businesses don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place. 

Losing access to your business’s data in this day and age could very well mean losing everything. That means that as data becomes an increasingly important commodity to businesses of all types and sizes, so does having a plan for if or when your business experiences a data disaster. 

The thought of protecting your business against a data disaster might be daunting, but don’t worry. By following the steps listed below in this article, you can make sure that your business is ready to take on the challenge. 

However, before we actually get into those steps, there is one distinction you should understand: the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan.

A business continuity plan is primarily proactive, in that it is a strategy by which a business can continue to operate no matter what kind of disaster or setback befalls it.

A disaster recovery plan is primarily reactive and has to do with how a business acts immediately following a disaster of some sort – in this case, a data disaster. 

So, now that we’re clear on what a disaster recovery plan is, here are the steps your business can take to create one that works for you and your employees. 

Step 1: Rally The Troops And Assess Your Equipment

In the fight against data disasters, everyone has to be on board. Otherwise, there will always be holes in your defense plan. That’s why executive buy-in – getting everyone in the company, from the CEO to the entry-level employees – is crucial. You need everyone to collaborate cross-functionally in order to fully protect your business. 

From there, you need to thoroughly analyze each of your business’s systems, applications, and data sets, as well as how they’re physically accessed, in order to identify potential vulnerabilities. Then you should determine which systems are absolutely critical to the operation of your business and for getting products and services to your customers. These are the functions that will need to stay up and running, even after a data disaster. 

Step 2: Create Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

Once you have everyone on board and an understanding of your equipment and assets (as well as their vulnerabilities), it’s time to actually formulate your disaster recovery plan. To do this, you should take a look at your budget, resources, tools, and partners in this endeavor. When you understand how long it takes your business to get back online and the cost of doing so, you’ll have a good idea of how to move forward. 

Step 3: Test Your Strategy

No great plan is complete without first testing it to see if it will work. Put your disaster recovery plan through a trial run to see how quickly your team responds to solve the problem and see if there are any improvements that need to be made to the process. Then, by the time an actual data disaster occurs, your business will know how to shut it down and keep running with no problem at all. 

While the steps themselves aren’t difficult to understand, preparing your business to combat data disasters takes a lot of work. In the end, though, the work is worth it if it means protecting your data. As a recap, here are the four main action steps that you need to take in formulating a disaster recovery plan: 

  1. Get executive buy-in for creating a disaster recovery plan.
  2. Analyze and evaluate your business’s systems, applications and data to understand how they could be impacted.
  3. Find out which systems you need to keep running and prioritize them during the fallout of the data disaster.
  4. Test your plan before you actually need to put it in action. This one can’t be emphasized enough. Without testing that your plan works, you don’t really have a plan.

Follow these steps and you can feel more confident that your business can handle any data disasters that come your way.

Terms You Should Know

When creating your plan, there are two important terms to keep in mind. These will impact both the monetary cost to implement them as well as what you’re business can handle in downtime. The lower these numbers, the higher the cost will be to implement them. These costs can rise significantly as your objectives get closer to zero. It’s best to discuss the tradeoff of time and money for these with an experienced technology professional to help make the most effective decision for your business.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

The RTO is the amount of time it will take your business to recover from a disaster scenario. Consider how long you can afford to be down before you lose significant money and begin to damage your brand reputation.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RPO is how much data you can possibly lose without causing a major impact on your business. Consider the amount of time it would take to re-enter lost data or the consequences of losing that data.

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