by Bryan Gregory, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Aldridge
Hurricane season is fast approaching and this year’s forecasted storm activity is abnormally high. The Weather Channel predicts 2016’s season will include 14 named storms and eight hurricanes, three of which are likely to be a category three or higher. The spike in activity is a concern for anyone positioned within the storms’ potential landfall regions, but it’s especially alarming for small businesses whose operations and reputation could be severely damaged in the wake of such a disaster. Data backup and redundancy are key components of a business’s disaster recovery plan and can help significantly reduce the negative impact of a devastating hurricane on a company’s future operations and survival.
Business owners should incorporate the following procedures to help prevent inconvenient and expensive data loss incidents due to a hurricane, or other natural disaster.
Know your data and your business.
Data awareness and analysis are necessary to the development of a valuable backup strategy. Every business stores, uses, and shares its data in different ways. It’s imperative that an organization understand these processes in order to effectively protect its business-critical information. A company must examine what data is stored, where it’s stored, how often it’s accessed, and what risks and costs might accompany the loss of such information.
It’s helpful, if not necessary, to involve the organization’s employees in this endeavor as the company’s critical data may be stored on numerous devices ranging from computers and smartphones, to servers and cloud computing platforms. A solid understanding of the ways an organization handles its sensitive information will help formulate a sound backup solution capable of supporting a company’s operation in the midst of a crisis or natural disaster.
Back it up.
Data backup and redundancy are crucial to the recovery of a business in the wake of a hurricane but should already be part of any business’s day-to-day routine. An organization can never truly know when a disaster may strike and having the right copies of the right data in the right places is essential to the company’s ability to resume its operations and minimize downtime under any circumstances.
Organizations should store multiple copies of their business-critical data on multiple off-site servers outside of a hurricane’s potential impact area. Off-site data storage available from anywhere on the Internet will allow employees to access the information they need to do their jobs even if a hurricane destroys the on-site server where data is stored. Backups should also occur automatically so the most recent versions of all critical files are available at all times.
Have a plan and educate!
An official disaster recovery plan is an integral part of a business’s ability to continue operating in the event of hurricane destruction and should be well-designed to avoid mishaps in its execution. According to the Acronis 2012 Disaster Recovery Index, only 35% of businesses have confidence in the disaster recovery plans they have in place, which is alarming considering the high number of companies that go out of business following a major data loss incident. Only six percent of companies survive longer than two years after losing a large amount of critical data, says Gartner, and a majority of these failures can be easily prevented with the right technology and planning.
A business should compose a written outline that identifies the business-critical systems, the recovery time objectives for such systems, the strategies in place to resume operations, and the people responsible for carrying out the necessary procedures. In addition, an organization should host regular testing and employee education sessions to determine areas of the plan in need of improvement, and guarantee employees have the knowledge to access vital resources when a disaster occurs.
Businesses need to take necessary measures to ensure their data’s continuity not only because of this year’s predictions of high hurricane activity but because weather can be unexpected, unplanned and unpredictable and any loss of power can be detrimental to your business’ success.
Bryan Gregory is the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Aldridge, a technology management, consulting and outsourcing company that specializes in providing the best fit IT solutions. They have worked with a variety of companies to make sure their data is protected.