A disaster recovery plan is a simple concept, it is a plan you put in place to describe how you have chosen to protect your business or yourself in the case that a disaster strikes, usually this relates to IT systems. If you have ever experienced the panic of losing a USB drive, dropping an external harddrive or have never thought about your computer suddenly not working in your business then this article is for you. The concept is simple, look at what you have and predetermine what you or your employees should do in the case that something goes wrong with anything essential for operating your business...yes this can include your eftpos machine and yes this is something that is often overlooked.
Disaster Recovery Plans...the thought of physically writing down what you will do when the worst happens is usually enough to make most people cringe...more paperwork. As is often the case, we prefer to do the least amount of paperwork necessary to keep our business running and a "just in case" scenario just doesn't seem urgent enough until we are faced with the issue which is usually followed up with "OMG what do I do!". Most people aren't aware of how much "life" they should expect from IT systems and tend to think of them like other assets, use it until it breaks! A fun fact that most people are unaware of is that electrical equipment is unique from other physical assets in that you can't really predict with any accuracy exactly when it will fail and is classified as "Random Mode Of Failure". Typically you can hope to have around 5 years of life from most IT systems before the hardware fails, compatability issues arise or support issues increase...this is of course unless you have equipment with manufacturing defects, you drop it, spill something on it, have your stuff stolen, an unexpected update cripples your systems or you are unfortunate enough to experience a lightning or fire event. All of these issues are what drive the need for a disaster recovery plan.
So lets assume you are still reading and grudgingly accept that you need one, where do you start? Great question! So my favourite way of approaching this for beginners is to have them list the failures or events they have experienced in the past in a spreadsheet which usually looks like this:
- Dropped my laptop;
- Dropped my harddrive;
- Spilled coffee on my laptop;
- Had my usb drive stolen when I left it in another computer; or
- An update was rolled out and my equipment stopped working.
Essentially you can write a very long list but it is just to give you somewhere to start thinking. Most disaster recovery plans examine a heap of different scenarios and customise the solution for each person / business unit / business but essentially I like people to think about these very few scenarios:
- If your computer or external storage stopped working now;
- If your computer or external storage was stolen;
- If there was a fire in your primary place of business;
- If your current location that you stored your backups suddenly stopped working, became inaccessible or corrupted;
- If your internet was down for a week or more; or
- If you couldn't access internet based financial systems, key services or communications (e-mail).
Ok, now for each scenario assess the impact to your business, what you would do business wise to cope with the loss, what you could do to prevent it or reduce the damage and finally try to find solutions where you can address multiple items if possible.
This is generally best worked through with somone with IT systems knowledge who can guide you but first and foremost I give you one very important hint...take backups and store a copy of your backups offsite (at another location) as this is a very effective way to help mitigate some risk. How should you do this, well this is where talking to someone about your circumstances comes in as there is no one size fits all scenario unless cost is not a factor. If you'd like someone to chat to about this or can't bring yourself to write out yet another document then this is where we could certainly help you. If you are interested in finding out about our business and what we can do for you then please feel free to visit our main website or contact us. Thank you for your time, for reading our blog post and it would be great if you feel the need to share or like our articles via one of our social media platforms with the @ActsIntuitively tag as applies.
Technical Services Manager
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