The server room flooded, your computers are all stolen or destroyed, and hackers are holding your data hostage unless you deliver an absurd amount of bitcoin. Oh nooooo! These are the nightmares of business and nonprofit leaders everywhere. Only in our worst dreams could these events coincide, but the waking world holds a real risk of one or more of these calamities occurring on any given day.
Organizations of every size and type increasingly depend on data to perform daily functions. If the data is inaccessible for any reason, operations grind to a halt. It’s a terrifying prospect that could threaten the continued success or even the survival of a small business or nonprofit. What would you do if it happened to you?
Prevention is the best strategy, but even careful training and scrupulous attention to data security can’t stave off a natural disaster, hardware malfunction, or committed criminal. In those unfortunate situations, having the right elements in place before disaster strikes often mean the difference between a successful recovery and catastrophic failure for the organization. To survive potential fires, floods, and killer bees (or, more often, aggressive hackers), focus on these three keys to a successful data recovery.
Data Backups in Multiple Locations
Backing up your data on a regular basis is a given, but where you store these backups is just as important. Every organization should have at least one current backup located in a secure, off-site location as well as the office or another base of operations. Wind, water, lightening, fire, building collapse, thieves…there’s a long list of hazards that could render your carefully backed up data useless if it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. If your office is destroyed or your computers stolen, any backups stored at the same location face a similar fate. Each time you back up data, be sure that the freshly updated backup files also make it to your offsite storage location so they’ll be available should a need arise. Offsite backups (as with other data storage) should be fully encrypted to prevent misuse if prying eyes gain access to these files.
Effective Recovery Plan
Like data backups, having a recovery plan in place is a basic precaution for all businesses and nonprofits. Who is responsible for carrying out data recovery operations? What role, if any, is your managed IT provider prepared to play in a disaster scenario? How long will it take to restore systems to a fully functional state? Having a clear, written process laid out beforehand will save countless hours of frustration should the worst befall your data. Examine your managed IT contract and talk with providers to ensure you understand what they can and will do to assist in the recovery process. Your recovery plan should specify which individuals within your organization are “first responders” in a data disaster and outline the steps they must follow. It’s important to keep this plan updated so staff turnover or changes in hardware, software, or IT providers don’t leave it inoperable when you’re depending on it to resolve a crisis.
Test Restorations of Backup Data
Your office fell into a volcano right before a huge project deadline, but everything will be okay; staff can work from home as soon as you restore critical data using your offsite backup. But wait, why isn’t the backup working like you thought it would? Recovery systems can and do fail, and if yours hits a glitch then all bets are off. Backups are only helpful when they can actually restore the data you need, so don’t ignore the potential for failure. Run test restorations often – weekly , or at least monthly – backups from each location.
Planning for data recovery can make a bad situation nothing more than a temporary inconvenience; not planning properly opens the door for a terrible situation to do permanent damage to the organization. To keep data destruction nightmares at bay, plan ahead to ensure a smooth recovery. Contact the managed IT professionals at HBP for additional strategies to protect your organization.