Why your business needs a disaster recovery plan in place

Author: Kieron Doyle

When setting up a business no doubt health and safety and other risk assessment areas will have been given a great deal of consideration but what about the risk to your business if your IT system were to fail?

Losing access to all your emails, your website, customer records, orders, and the ability to do payroll could have a catastrophic result on your entire business which is why you must have an IT disaster recovery plan in place.

You need a business recovery plan to ensure minimal downtime which is costly and inconvenient and ultimately threatens the survival of the business and the jobs it provides.

There are so many risks to your IT system nowadays from cyber-crime, viruses but also external factors, such as an office fire or flood disaster, or simple human error or machine failure.

Any or all of these could create enormous problems unless you have a proper recovery plan in place for your business. One of the key elements of your recovery plan has to be a strong and remote data back-up system which is backing up all of your business data.

Your plan needs to ensure its “business as usual” whatever befalls it, even if the office cannot be occupied due to a disaster. It might also be an insurance requirement or benefit, and a requirement for businesses which tender for contracts, not to mention good business practice and a competitive advantage.

It’s important your back-up system is not in your office; as if there is a fire it will be destroyed along with everything else so won’t be any use. Here are a few things to consider when planning your back-up strategy:

​1. Make sure everything business critical is backed up

Are you backing up all of your systems including email, your website, your customer data, your payroll system and your accounting system? Look at what your business needs to run on a daily basis and make sure it is all being backed up on a very regular basis.

Backing up to a cloud-based system means you can access your data remotely so even if your premises are destroyed you can still run your business.

2. Check how often you are backing up data

Check the time frame for your back-up systems. For example, if your computers all fail on a Friday afternoon and the back-ups only occur every Monday, you will have lost a whole week’s worth of business and information.

Also make sure your backups are working over the weekends so that if a system fails on Monday you don’t have to recover it back to the previous week.

3. Make sure your back-up is recoverable

This might sound like an obvious one but you need to make sure you can actually access and recover all of your information from your back-up system – check that it is possible to retrieve a sample of data by testing on a regular basis. After all, there is no point backing up your systems only to find you can’t access any of the data following a disaster.

In some businesses and professions this kind of plan could be a possible compliance requirement. All back-up systems should incorporate a level of data recovery that ensures the viability of the business.

4. Make sure you think about hardware failure

With so much focus on cyber-crime or being hacked it can be easy to forget that not all IT disasters are online – computers can break, or have coffee spilled on them, or just fail due to an internal problem so make sure you factor in hardware failures.

If your servers fail and shut down all your systems you aren’t just facing the business being down, but also the cost of replacing all of the failed hardware as well so a contingency budget should be a part of your recovery plan.

5. Plan against human error

The most likely culprit for an IT disaster within a company is actually likely to be one of the employees within the business. Failing to complete an IT process correctly or missing a step can lead to severe data loss or file corruption and cause the business serious problems.

Some of this can be resolved if you are backing up files continuously but it should also be part of the recovery plan to ensure there are proper processes and procedures in places for use of all IT systems. Don’t forget that customers and other related businesses might be reliant on the data managed and held by your business.

If you need help developing an IT disaster recovery plan for your business, or you would like advice on what kind of back-up system to install, give the experts here at Hampshire Business Computers a call and we’ll be happy to help.

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