Regardless of the size of your business or organisation, you can never be fully immune to disasters or critical events which impact your operations.
Natural events like floods or earthquakes, cyber-attacks or hacking, fires or criminal damage, power outages or equipment failure and even simple human error can all result in data loss and severe service disruption.
So, having the right plan and processes in place to recover from such an event and get your systems, network and data back up and running quickly is essential.
Here, we take an in-depth look at disaster recovery, the importance of having the right solutions in place and the vital elements your disaster recovery programme should include for it to be effective.
What is disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery is the process of preparing your business or organisation for critical events that have the potential to disrupt your operations, so you can recover as quickly as possible.
Because IT and technology play a crucial role in most businesses nowadays, an IT disaster recovery plan is essential to ensure you can respond quickly to such an event, minimise the disruption and damage it causes and swiftly resume your normal operations.
A robust disaster recovery plan should include the following basic elements at the very least:
- Documented emergency processes for each predicted scenario
- Access to business-critical IT assets
- Tools or technologies required for recovery
- A dedicated disaster recovery team, with pre-defined roles and responsibilities
- Communication procedures
All staff should be made aware of your disaster recovery procedures, with training and communication required where appropriate to ensure everyone knows what to do, and who to report any issues to, should the worst happen.
Why is disaster recovery important?
Having a disaster recovery plan and ensuring everyone in your teams knows what they are doing in the event of a business-critical incident are essential. They can help your business to:
Minimise downtime or service interruption
Even in the face of unforeseen circumstances, with an effective disaster recovery plan in place, your business can continue operating with minimal disruption.
Critical incidents can cause damage to your network, systems, data and – depending on the nature of the disaster – even your business premises. Knowing how to respond swiftly and effectively can help limit damage, financial cost and data loss.
Having documented disaster recovery processes in place and ensuring your staff are fully trained and know what to do in an emergency will boost confidence and morale and enable your team to respond swiftly and effectively in an emergency situation.
Improved service delivery
A robust disaster recovery plan will help your IT team restore all your business-critical services back to normal as quickly as possible, so you can carry on delivering services with minimal disruption.
Four essential elements of a disaster recovery plan
When it comes to developing and documenting your organisation’s disaster recovery plan, there are some key things you should consider, including:
Understand your risks
While it’s almost impossible to plan for every single disaster or business-critical incident, you should be able to identify the most common threats and risks to you business, so you can plan how to deal with them.
Understanding your business, your industry and the locations you operate in will help you to identify the risks and start preparing.
A good disaster recovery plan should include how your business might respond to natural disasters, geopolitical or economic events like conflicts, social unrest, recessions or – using a recent example – pandemics. It should also include critical equipment failure like servers, connectivity, software and hardware, loss of power or use of your business premises, and the ever-evolving threat of cybercrime.
Planning out an effective response against all the most significant threats will give you a solid platform for your disaster recovery programme.
Know your assets
A crucial part of any disaster recovery plan is knowing what assets and resources you have to help you respond, and how to access them quickly in an emergency.
This can include employees with disaster recovery responsibilities, hardware, software, mobile devices, passwords, cloud services and other equipment.
While it can take some time to identify, organise and document it all, once it’s done, you’ll have a better idea of the critical assets your business can’t operate without, any gaps that need addressing and any other non-essential assets you may need to get your business operations back to normal.
Back up your data
Regular data backups are an essential part of any disaster recovery plan.
If your networks or servers go down, having an up-to-date copy of your data that you can access quickly will be key to resuming normal operations.
It’s advisable to create more than one backup of your data, with at least one being held securely off-site so if your main business premises are affected, you can still access your networks and data remotely.
Monitoring and testing
You can have the best disaster recovery plan in your industry, but if it isn’t effective when it comes to the crunch, it won’t do your business much good.
So, once you have developed your plan, make sure you test it periodically to see how effective it is and ensure that any individual elements, such as data backups, are being done as they should.
A disaster can cause major disruption for a business of any size. If you have a disaster recovery plan that fails when you need it, it could prolong the disruption and compound the financial and reputational damage a critical event can cause.
How can BCDR help?
BCDR provides industry-leading business continuity and disaster recovery solutions to help businesses get back up and running quickly in the event of a critical data loss.
Unlike other providers, our service is primarily built around ensuring business continuity to keep downtime to a minimum so businesses can continue to provide exceptional service to their own customers.
If you’re looking for a new approach to business continuity and disaster recovery, we’ve got your back.
Get in touch today to find out more.