A disaster can happen at any time on any day and is likely to occur at the most inconvenient time. If you aren’t prepared, you run the risk of having the disaster coming before you have a plan in place to handle it. If your data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then you’ve come to the right place. This report will outline 10 things you should have in place to ensure your business could be back up and running in the event of a disaster.

Have a written plan

As simple as it may sound, just thinking through in advance what needs to happen if your server has a meltdown or a natural disaster wipes out your office, will go a long way in getting it back fast. At a minimum, the plan should contain details on what disaster could happen and a step-by-step process of what to do, who should do it, and how. Also include contact information for various providers.

If you can’t afford to have your network down for more than a few hours, then you need a plan that can get you back up and running within that time frame. You may want the ability to virtualize your server, allowing the office to run off of the virtualized server while the real one is repaired.

Hire a trusted professional to help you

Trying to recover your data after a disaster without professional help is business suicide; one misstep during the recovery process can result in forever losing your data or result in weeks of downtime. Make sure you work with someone who has experience both in setting up business contingency plans (so you have a good framework from which you can restore your network) and experience in data recovery.

Have a communication plan

Information is critical during a disaster or emergency. It is essential to provide precise, timely, and relevant information for employees, customers, and vendors to maintain trust and credibility, as well as ensuring personal safety and productivity. Having a communication plan in place will minimize problems caused by an unexpected disaster.

Your communication plan should include the following but not limited to:

  • Current emergency contact list.
  • Chain of command.
  • Multiple communication methods to keep employees, customers, and vendors informed and updated whether by email, text, or phone calls.
  • Emergency procedures in place.
  • Ensure important contact records and documents are available off-site.

Automate your backups

If backing up your data depends on a human being doing something, it’s flawed. The #1 cause of data loss is human error. People not swapping out tapes properly, someone not setting up the backup to run properly, etc. Always automate your backups so they run like clockwork.

Have an offsite backup of your data

Always, always, always maintain a recent copy of your data off-site, on a different server, or on a storage device. Onsite backups are good, but they won’t help you if they get stolen, flooded, burned, or hacked along with your server.

Have remote access and management of your network

Not only will this allow you and your staff to keep working if you can’t go into your office, but you’ll love the convenience it provides. Plus, your IT staff or an IT consultant should be able to access your network remotely in the event of an emergency or for routine maintenance.

Image your server

Having a copy of your data offsite is good, but keep in mind that all information has to be restored someplace to be of any use. If you don’t have all the software disks and licenses, it could take days to reinstate your applications (like Microsoft Office, Creative Cloud, your database, accounting software, etc.) even though your data may be readily available.

Imaging your server is similar to making an exact replica; that replica can then be directly copied to another server saving an enormous amount of time and money in getting your network back. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about losing your preferences, configurations or favorites. To find out more about this type of backup, ask your IT professional.

Network documentation

Network documentation is simply a blueprint of the software, data, systems and hardware you have in your company’s network. Your IT manager or IT consultant should put this together for you. This will make the job of restoring your network faster, easier AND cheaper. It also speeds up the process of everyday repairs on your network since the technicians don’t have to spend time figuring out where things are located and how they are configured. And finally, should disaster strike, you have documentation for insurance claims of exactly what you lost. Again, have your IT professional document this and keep a printed copy with your disaster recovery plan.

Maintain your system

One of the most important ways to avoid disaster is by maintaining the security of your network. While fires, floods, theft and natural disasters are certainly a threat, you are much more likely to experience downtime and data loss due to a virus, worm, hacker attack, or human error. That’s why it’s critical to keep your network patched, secure and up-to-date. Additionally, monitor hardware for deterioration and software for corruption. This is another overlooked threat that can wipe you out. Make sure you replace or repair aging software or hardware to avoid this problem.

Update, test, repeat!

A survey conducted by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal in 2017 found that 43% of companies are running a full test once a year while 19% are running a full test at least twice per year. In today’s ever-evolving world of IT and technological change, it’s critical that companies continuously update and test their plans, something that only 14% of organizations do today. Hire an IT professional to run a test once a month to ensure your backups are working and your system is secure. After all, the worst time to test your parachute is after you’ve jumped out of the plane.