Creating an Effective Disaster Recovery Strategy for Your Business
As we enter a new decade, we are only becoming more reliant on technology. We use it every day, and it holds the most important aspects of most businesses. Unfortunately, technology can also be vulnerable. Companies face disasters every day regarding their technology, and if they don’t have a backup plan in place, it can severely affect their business.
So what happens when disaster strikes, and you can’t access your information? The solution to this problem is a disaster recovery strategy, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today. So keep reading to learn more about why and how you should create a disaster recovery plan for your business.
Types of Disasters That Affect Your Business
Many different types of disasters may impact your operations and, ultimately, your business. And when these disasters hit, roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors. Even worse, 90 percent of small companies who fail to resume their operations within five days will go out of business within one year.
A few of the most common disasters businesses experience are:
- Hardware Failure
- Software Corruption
- Ransomware or Other Cyberattacks
- Power Outages
- Natural Disaster
- Theft — Internal and External
Of this list, ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats.
A ransomware attack is when a cybercriminal encrypts your data. To restore your information, you must pay a “ransom” demanded by the hacker.
The average cost to recover from ransomware has quickly grown in the last year to $84,000. This is no small sum. And some victims who pay the ransom still don’t recover their data.
This dangerous threat is all too common and can interrupt business operations for days.
No matter what disaster you are dealing with, data loss is a serious possibility. And this is especially scary, considering that 75 percent of businesses don’t have a disaster plan. So to make sure you don’t become just another cautioning statistic, we’re going to walk through setting up a disaster recovery strategy.
Creating a Disaster Recovery Strategy
To create a disaster recovery strategy, you’ll need to put policies and procedures in place to protect your business. These will help prevent disasters, speed up recovery, and streamline current processes.
And the first step to any disaster recovery strategy is a good backup.
Backing Up Your Data
Having backups of your data is crucial for your business. There are essentially three different elements of a good backup that you will want to have to protect your business.
1. Hardware Backup
With this part of a backup, you’ll typically have a couple of hard drives inside of your servers backing up all of your information. These hard drives mirror each other, so you don’t have to worry about a hardware failure of one of the drives. What is stored on one is also stored on the other.
2. Flat Backup
The second element of your backup that you will want to have is a flat file backup. With this form of backup, you will store individual files that are on your computer. Organizations may use this type of backup for something like QuickBooks data or Excel data.
3. Image Backup
The last form of backup you will want to have is images. Images are often automatic and can be updated according to a set schedule. For example, you can set images to be updated every evening.
When you have an image, you have a snapshot of your computer. Everything from the configuration of your computer to the settings, programs, security rules, and more are stored in an image. Then, if something were to happen, you can restore to the snapshot you have saved.
Images take up significant amounts of space, so it’s quite uncommon for organizations to have a large number of images saved or multiple revisions of an image.
Sometimes you may not realize for a few days that you have a problem. In this scenario, you could use the data from another form of backup and then just put that information back on the most recent image that was recovered.
One of the essential aspects of a backup is automatic replication. Many organizations have not set up replication to happen on its own — it’s all done manually.
Your backup should never be manual. Your backup should not require any human interaction. This is because humans forget things, make mistakes, or just get busy. And the first thing to fall through the cracks is usually the backup. It only takes one day without a backup for you to lose everything.
So how do you go about setting up automatic replication?
The most common way to set up replication is through VMware or Hyper V, Microsoft’s replication product. Many companies are also now relying on Azure Site Recovery.
Azure Site Recovery is a service available within Azure, which is Microsoft’s cloud platform. The service will take a replication of your server and store it in the cloud. Then, in the event you have some major disaster, you can spin up your server in the cloud. Many of our clients here at Executech are moving to Azure Site Recovery because it is a simple yet effective backup solution.
Types of Backup Solutions
When looking into backup solutions for your business, there are a few different routes you can take. Firstly, you could take a premise-based approach and have your backup stored physically onsite. On the other hand, you could choose to utilize the cloud for your backup. Or, you could choose a hybrid option that takes advantage of both on-premise and cloud-based solutions.
We recommend a cloud-based approach. On-premise backups pose a multitude of difficulties, including the fact that they are much more vulnerable to theft. If you are solely relying on an on-premise backup and someone breaks into your office and steals your servers, computers, and hard drives, you’re in trouble.
You want to ensure that you have a backup stored in the cloud, whether it’s wholly cloud-based or a hybrid approach.
Hybrid solutions are a go-to approach for organizations that have an extraordinary amount of data. Companies that have 10, 15, or even 20 terabytes of data find that it’s difficult to put that much information on the cloud every night. As a result, a hybrid option is usually the best option for them.
Cloud Backup Products
When it comes to cloud backup solutions, there are two products that we recommend to our clients: Azure Backup and Acronis Cloud. Both of these services provide excellent features and robust security measures to keep your data safe and out of the wrong hands.
If your systems are already on Microsoft, Azure Backup is probably a great fit. Inside of Azure backup, you have the option for blob storage as well as cold storage. Cold storage is used for archive data and is less expensive than blob storage. If you have significant amounts of stagnant data that doesn’t often change, you should check out cold storage.
Another excellent product is Acronis Cloud. We use Acronis for many of our clients because it’s a simple, intuitive software program for backing up your data in the cloud. It also includes robust security features to keep your information protected.
Sophos Intercept X
Having a backup is a necessity in a disaster recovery strategy. However, there are also steps you can take to prevent some disasters in the first place. This is especially true for ransomware and other cyberattacks.
Most scenarios where a company gets hit with ransomware begin with a human clicking on a malicious link. Because this is human error, not a vulnerability in systems, it makes it more difficult to block. There are very few technology solutions to prevent ransomware.
A rare product that does fight against ransomware is Sophos Intercept X. We recommend this product to all of our clients because of its effective and efficient ransomware-blocking technology. This strategy will help you stop disasters before they even start.
Creating a Disaster Recovery Strategy
Now that we’ve gone over some key technologies, it’s time actually to create your disaster recovery strategy. Firstly, you need to determine what your critical systems are. You’ll also need to identify and assign roles, including contact info. In doing this, take note of important positions and the information these roles need.
This includes vendor contacts and escalation lists. If your systems go down and your escalation list is on your computer, you won’t be able to access it. That’s why many businesses have a binder or other physical form of this information.
Lastly, you’ll want to test your plan. When you are testing your plan, you will often find systems that you missed initially, like phones. An email backup is another largely missed system. Or, if you have a website, specifically an e-commerce site, that is required for your business to run, you’ll need to have it included in your disaster recovery strategy.
When you take the time to test your strategy, you’ll be more likely to identify these missing pieces and end up with a complete disaster recovery strategy if and when you need to use it.
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