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The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Plan

While not as devastating or widespread as the damage caused by super storm Sandy on the East Coast of the US, the floods in the north of England just over two months ago, had a considerable impact on small businesses.   Shop owners, the self employed and those with home offices saw their businesses paralysed from the result of heavy rains.  No matter the size of a business, the statistics on the impact from disaster are staggering – ninety per cent of businesses that lose data from disasters shut down within two years – thus highlighting the importance of having a disaster recovery plan.

A disaster recovery plan provides contingency for the restoration of data loss resulting from both man- made and natural disasters.  While high profile events such as the aforementioned floods tend to capture most news headlines, lesser profile events such as the following can also result in a loss of critical business information:

  • accidental file deletion
  • employee malfeasance
  • power grid interruptions
  • viruses and malware

When drafting a disaster recovery plan it is equally important to plan for such seemingly incidental yet equally devastating circumstances, because, after all, data loss is data loss no matter what the cause.

The importance of periodic testing

A disaster recovery plan is only as strong as the tests that prove its effectiveness.  Even if your organisation has implemented a regular backup routine, you need to ensure that your critical data is:

  • properly written to the storage medium (tape or disc)
  • correctly indexed and catalogued
  • can be recalled at a moment’s notice
  • readable

Periodic disaster recovery testing should be scheduled for your business, at the minimum, at least once a year.  However many experts suggest that organisations test more frequently – once every six months or even every quarter.  Much is dependent on the specifics of your business with regards to the amount of data being backed up, infrastructure modification, personnel changes and recovery time objectives.

Irrespective of frequency, the main goal of testing is to ensure business continuity in the event of a data loss.  If you are backing up to tape then you will need to recall the exact volumes of tapes for an emergency restore.  Likewise, if your organisation has a designated co-location site, then it is important to know which data is crucial to keep your business running.  Additionally, it’s imperative to remember that your disaster recovery plan is a living document that will need to be modified according to revisions to policies and procedures, changes in staff, adaptation of new software and applications, etc.

Supplementing with an offsite storage solution

If your business is hit by disaster, it’s likely that the infrastructure may be damaged to the extent that business operations will be severely hindered.  Likewise, backup tapes stored on-site at your office facilities may also be destroyed or damaged, essentially creating a “double whammy” for your organisation.  Offsite storage ensures that critical backup media is properly rotated and sent to a secure vault location for protection and long term preservation.

Archive Document Data Storage provides Data Tape Rotation and Disaster Planning services to businesses throughout London, Swindon, Bristol and Bath.  To find out more about how we can help you achieve your disaster recovery goals, please contact us by phone or fill in the form on the page.

The File Queen: Expert in Record & Information Management, LPM Columnist.

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