8 Steps Every Business Must Follow to Plan for Disaster

Dial showing business continuity planning and disaster recovery for small businesses.Coastal communities know to prep their homes for hurricane season and, in the northeast, people stock up on supplies before a winter storm hits. But what about your business? Do you have a plan in place for natural disasters? What about accidents that can happen any day of the week – like a power surge damaging your servers?

A “disaster” can be man-made, natural or accidental. You need to be prepared for the unexpected. Setting your strategy now will prevent last-minute scrambling should the worst-case scenario occur.

1. Assess Your Environment

To create a robust plan, you need to know what could knock your business offline. An IT expert can help you carefully evaluate your operating environment and pose questions you may not have considered, like “How would you recover from damage caused by malfunctioning sprinklers?”

2. Document Your Business Continuity Plan

If a system fails, you want to recover quickly and with minimal damage to your business. Set out plans and policies that address each potential threat and vulnerability you identified when you assessed your operating environment. Make it clear who is responsible for each task and meet with them to discuss what they will need to do in an emergency situation.

3. Know Your Backup Power Needs

How much power you need will be based on operational concerns and industry regulations. You may only need enough power for a few hours, or laws could require you to have a standby generator. Determine if there are sufficient uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) connected to your servers to assure a graceful shutdown if your building loses power.  Remember, you can simplify your UPS plan if your run your business in the cloud and it is backed up in the cloud.

4. Know How You’ll Power Systems Down

Equipment can be damaged and data corrupted when systems power down unexpectedly. If you’re preparing for an event that will cause widespread outages, like a hurricane or tornado, you may want to power down your systems. If you choose to have a planned outage, be able to answer:

  1. How will you shut systems down?
  2. Do you have offsite backups?
  3. What will you do if things don’t come back up as expected?
  4. Do you need to take measures to physically protect equipment—like moving it away from windows and off the floor?

5. Have Offsite Backups and Replica Systems Active

When set up correctly, backups and replica systems ensure access to your business data and applications. Together, they can prevent catastrophic data loss and are important components of your business continuity plan, but they can’t be your entire strategy.

If you only have on-premise copies, you aren’t safeguarding your business. A backup stored at your office, in an onsite server or using backup tapes is as vulnerable to damage as the original. Have active, offsite backups and replica systems and test both regularly.

6. Move Data to the Cloud

Moving data to the cloud removes concerns about physical damage to machines, which is one reason we recommend it. As cloud solutions have matured, services like data backups have become more affordable. You don’t need to painstakingly define which data is “critical” because, with cloud continuity solutions, you only pay if you need it.

You have peace of mind knowing a full backup exists and can be quickly accessed for a fraction of what traditional on-premise solutions cost.

7. Test Your Backups and Business Continuity Solutions

Test, test, and then test again! You need to have 100% confidence in your backups and continuity solutions.

Years ago, we established a backup solution for a company’s servers. It was a one-time project and, afterward, the company did not conduct necessary, regular testing. When the server malfunctioned, as they can, years of critical data were lost. You don’t want to find yourself in this position.

8. Go Over the Plan with Your Organization

Once you have everything documented, tell everyone in the organization what they need to know. This may vary by department – your finance team doesn’t need to know how to test backups. However, like everyone, they do need to know if they’ll be asked to work from home during a power outage.

Your Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Waiting until you’re in the midst of a disaster is not the time to start thinking about disaster recovery. You’ll end up scrambling for solutions, making it more likely a critical step is overlooked.

You need to create a plan now to safeguard your business and prevent data loss and damage to equipment. We can help. Contact Nortec.

Nortec Communications - Washington D.C