Friday, December 30, 2011

Do you need a disaster recovery plan for your small business?

The purpose of this week's article is to raise awareness about the need for a cohesive disaster recovery plan for your small business. I find from the interactions I've had with others involved with small businesses that data loss is not always given sufficient consideration in its possible effect on day to day operations. If you lost the server(s) in your main office, how much would it cost you? If the answer to this is a significant sum of time, and/or money the answer to the question 'do I need a disaster recovery plan (DR)?' is pretty clear.

But what's involved in a DR plan? The factors are fairly simple to come up with through some brain storming. One of the first things you are going to want to consider with a DR plan is your employees themselves. Does your staff have the ability to work from home if the office is inaccessible? Do you have a method of communicating with these employees outside of the work place? These are questions that must be answered, and need to be planned for. A good suggestion is to have a roster of some sort set up, as well as a protocol for what can be done from home effectively and safely should it be required.

Next you'll want to consider your data and your equipment. Do you have backups of all your important data and where do you keep it stored? Some sort of off site backup solution is going to be critical to this portion of your planning. There are plenty of public and private cloud solutions that you can use to achieve this goal. Being that I'm a little biased in this area due to my employment, I might suggest 3X Systems backup appliance for this end if you have a mostly Microsoft oriented environment. On top of merely having the data stored off site it may also be suggestible to have at least some sort of limited backup infrastructure that you can bring online in the event that your office is completely unusable. Bear in mind that by off site I don't even necessarily mean an incredibly expensive facility you are renting out, as with a bit of configuration and a decent internet connection an employee or your own residence can be made into an effective DR site. If you use a virtualized infrastructure for your business it might be a good idea to have a replica of any critical VMs available at this location that you can boot up for temporary service restoration. Services such as email (Exchange or Zimbra for example), your companies web server, and database servers are all included on the list of things you'll want to be prepared to bring back quickly.

The last bit I want to mention in this piece is the need for testing. It sounds like an obvious concept, but it is an often neglected portion of the DR strategy. Scheduling fail-over tests and rating your plan's efficiency and effectiveness will keep you and your staff on top of their game, and your data safe.

It's better to spend the time and resources now to come up with a strategy, than it is to have to spend yet more of it later trying to muddle through. Next week I'll outline the DR strategy I've set up for the small business KTDID, LLC Event planning so you can see an example.


  1. good post and also very helpful for me as business continuity planning is very essential issue for your business.

  2. insightful post, thinking ahead can really save you time and money. I know first hand what not having a disaster recovery plan can do. Now I am well prepared