Modern disaster recovery means no drama out of a crisis
The difference between thriving and diving
“Only 54% of UK organisations are confident their BC plans are up-to-date.” - Databarracks
There’s that old adage “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. It pretty much sums up disaster recovery.
For business owners it’s the stuff of nightmares. The power’s been out for days after a storm or a river near the office has burst its banks. Cold (expensive) panic.
Unpredictable events can come out of the blue and knock your business for six. They aren’t as rare as you’d think either. From IT outages and malware to natural disasters and wilful or accidental damage, any such crisis could massively disrupt your business.
Thankfully, the modern world is full of new technologies and tricks to help you prepare should the worst happen. The key is to look at your business objectively, thoroughly assessing the types of scenarios you most need to plan for. Only then can you come up with the solutions.
Why have a business continuity plan?
The whole thing about emergencies is you don’t usually see them coming. But a well-considered business plan that’s tailored to your business needs will get it up and running far quicker. Not only that, but you’re more likely to be able to minimise disruption for customers, mitigating the risk of financial loss. It’s also a good way of showing stakeholders, investors and insurers that your business is strong enough to cope with anything that’s thrown at it, continuing to comply with legal or regulatory requirements. Yep, business continuity planning can literally save your bacon.
Sounds great - but where do I start?
The important thing is that your disaster recovery plan is tailored entirely to your business. A good place to start is by undertaking a business impact analysis. Basically, you assess what is most important in terms of staff, stock, processes and other assets. Focus on the critical ones that you really can’t run without, and go from there.
The cloud is your friend
One of the most secure ways to save and share your business data is by uploading it to the cloud. There are loads of providers to choose from, but really you just need a solution that offers a large enough capacity at the right price.
Cloud services allow you to access all your data on-demand from any internet connected device. It also means you can share information and have staff working on one document simultaneously. The real beauty too is that unlike locally stored data you don’t need to be onsite to gain access and there’s no worry about maintenance or upgrades.
Cloud storage is also really flexible, with a sliding scale for data usage you can increase or decrease as you wish. Some providers even allow you to pay by the second, so data can only be accessed when your business is open, cutting costs even more.
“[Consider] affordability, versatility, and storage capacity and file size limits, as well as cloud storage security, a given providers' ease of use, the customer support they offer, and any additional or specific features you might need.” - TomsGuide
Ask yourself: What data is crucial?
This helps you not only work out what you’d need in an emergency data-wise, but also keep a tabs on the cost of putting your plan into place. For example, most cloud-storage solutions get more expensive the more storage you need. So only store the important stuff.
Customer information and stock databases are essential. Christmas party photos from every year since 2010? Not so much.
Install effective antivirus software and update it regularly
The cloud is perfect for data storage and sharing but you still need to look after your internal computer systems. Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, with criminals devising new types of attacks all the time. You need a robust anti-malware solution in place that’s updated and maintained regularly.
Many cyber criminals target specific types of businesses, but in reality no-one is safe. Ransomware is a particularly growing threat, with businesses of all sizes at risk. For example, SamSam ransomware brought down a hospital in Indiana in early 2018 which only ended when $55000 was paid. Then of course there was the WannaCry attack in 2017, which afflicted over 200,000 computers in over 150 countries, including our very own NHS.
Back up your back ups
Worryingly, around 17% of UK businesses do not backup business data at all according to a recent survey. Even if you’re using the cloud for data storage and sharing, there’s nothing wrong with taking a belt and braces approach. Back-up your computer files regularly, on both a USB stick and an external hard drive. Use robust passwords too and keep a secure record of them - online password management systems are a popular way of doing this.
Let your employees in on it too
Does your role involve training staff? Add disaster recovery to your training list. Why? Because even the best disaster recovery plan in the world won’t work unless your staff are on board.
Following a crisis your staff can be a huge asset - they just need to be shown how to be. This won’t be easy in the midst of an emergency, so make sure they know the protocols now.
Also, when you’ve created your disaster recovery plan, circulate it to staff and make sure they can access it at all times - including from home. It’s also worth doing dummy runs so employees know how to respond and react. Are they set up to work remotely for example? Do they know who to call? The more effectively you communicate, the better.
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