By Symantec // 13 May 2013 // Related Categories: Tips

Follow these 4 steps

Joni Mitchell sang “Don't it always seem to go… that you don't know what you've got till it's gone”. This certainly rings true for businesses that experience a data disaster. According to leading software provider Symantec, 43% of companies that experience a data loss disaster never fully recover and 29% shut their doors within two years. What’s even scarier is that 74% of businesses don’t even have a disaster recovery plan.

If your business is in need of a proper disaster recovery plan, then here’s what you need to do:

Step One: Assess your current situation

Take an inventory of your assets. First your hardware: mobile devices, PCs, servers, printers, and other physical equipment. Then your software: desktop applications, specialised software, databases and proprietary software. Finally, account for all your personnel: who are they and where are they?

Once you have a complete list you'll need to figure out what needs to be up-and-running first, second, third, and so on in the event of a disaster. Pay close attention to your databases as they contain customer info and are usually most critical to your success. Also determine which employees need to get back online first.

Step Two: Set your targets and milestones

Building a proper disaster recovery plan is fairly complex. Here are the typical milestones to follow if you are doing it for the first time:

  • Within the first three months you should know exactly what to do in the event of a data loss disaster and your employees should be trained. The first critical steps of your plan should be in place such as how to restore critical files and how to secure any lost/stolen devices.
  • Within six months your entire plan should be implemented. All employees should be able to access your critical data within a reasonable timeframe (e.g. within 30 minutes of a disaster) and the key functions of your business should be recoverable with minimal disruption.
  • Within twelve months you should expand your disaster recovery plan to deal with the worst case scenarios (such as a flood) so you can run your business from a remote site or access your data in the Cloud.

Be sure to clearly define what will make your plan a success. This includes outlining clear and measurable recovery points and the quality of functionality.

Step Three: Implement your plan

Implementing disaster recovery can be complicated. Your IT manager or partner can help you with it, but you should be very familiar with the plan, your staff should be fully trained and all details should be fully documented.

Be aware that key technologies like virtualisation can greatly increase the flexibility for your business, but can also come with a performance cost. Virtualising correctly not only helps with deploying an effective DR plan, it can help deliver key efficiencies and reduce the costs of running your business. You also need to leverage key technologies, such as comprehensive backup and recovery for all your data.

You should consider a backup and recovery solution that can service both physical and virtual servers, as this can be critical to your recovery, simplify management and dramatically lower costs.

Step Four: Re-assess your plan

Don’t forget to regularly test your disaster recovery plan (at least once every three months) to make sure it works. Ideally you should be able to test without shutting down your production environment.

Need help?

If you need help creating your disaster recovery plan be sure to contact us for advice.

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