How to Plan for Disaster Recovery

Disasters happen to businesses of any size. They can take a variety of forms-ranging from fire and flood to janitorial accidents. Consultant Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, explains how you should plan for what is probably inevitable.  

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Every small and home-based business owner should resolve to implement a workable disaster recovery plan to divert looming IT failure and potentially permanent data loss. With some simple advance planning, it's possible to avoid mistakes that can lead to data collapse, which could stop your business in its tracks.

How can your company prepare its IT infrastructure? Since disaster recovery and data protection strategies are an absolute necessity, a little forethought and planning can go a long way. Any inability to access e-mail, corporate file shares or needed applications results in lost productivity-which ultimately affects the bottom line. Every company that has experienced an IT disaster knows that a simple disaster recovery plan is worth its weight in gold.

Plan IT

Having no plan is not a good plan! Many businesses that experience data loss are unprepared for the aftermath. Hardware or a system failure can happen at any time, and data can be lost as a result.

Unless a back up system is in place, this data is likely lost forever. Know that it's possible for companies to easily bounce back from every disaster-except data loss. Any infrastructure can be put back together. It's even possible to recreate user e-mail accounts, entire workstations-even servers. However, data can't be recreated if it is lost. That is, unless a back up system was in place. Imagine trying to remember all the e-mail messages currently in your own in-box and then trying to recreate each e-mail one by one! It's an impossible task.

Price IT

Disaster recovery planning is one area where it doesn't pay to be cheap. Spending money now to ensure that data is protected later will ultimately save you enormous amounts of money and time. File reconstruction is just one aspect of recovery. Every business also must determine precisely what data has been lost. This task can be a major undertaking in itself. Spending time recreating old files, rather than working on new business, can be detrimental to the company.

Smart business executives invest in comprehensive back up and disaster recovery solutions. For those small businesses that lack an in-house IT department, consulting with a professional IT company to develop a plan is a wise investment. A good system ensures that servers are protected against critical data loss, while expediting data recovery in the event of server failure.

Protect IT

A NAS (network-attached storage) device can provide this data protection, supplying fast virtualization capabilities. This will prove invaluable should a disaster occur in which an entire office worth of data is lost. In this scenario, a new NAS can simply be imaged for use as a virtual server. It will have the most current back up information intact on it. This little piece of hardware offers priceless peace of mind for small business owners.

Back IT up Offsite

Another smart component to a disaster recovery plan is a practical off-site back up solution. This allows complete data restoration for workstations, servers or NAS devices. This ensures that the operating system, applications and data of any machine will remain unharmed. Small businesses can even upload their data via a secure Internet connection so that data is securely stored out of the office in a remote data center. In the event of a disaster at work, data remains safe.

Regularly Test IT

It is essential for backups to not only run, but to also undergo regular testing. A best practice is to periodically simulate a disaster, and then perform a test restore to ensure that all data is available.

In addition, data management tools should leverage the latest technologies that allow for recovery to any hardware-including restoration into a virtualized environment. The use of virtualization, in concert with back up and disaster recovery solutions, provides companies with complete coverage. Virtualization separates the hardware and the software, which are typically bound together. In a conventional back up scenario, backups attach to the physical hardware they protect. By adding virtualization to a solution, backups can be leveraged to any physical (or non-physical) hardware. This provides a much more flexible and comprehensive solution.

So, how prepared is your company for potential data loss? Implement that disaster recovery plan now-before it's too late!

/images/stories/heads/sobel_dave70x70.jpg Dave Sobel is the founder and CEO of Evolve Technologies, a consulting firm that provides information technology and computer networking services to small businesses in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Evolve provides a wide array of services including server installation, virus protection, network security, back up services and complete information technology outsourcing. The first Microsoft Small Business Specialist located in the Washington, D.C. area, Evolve is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

Prior to founding Evolve Technologies, Sobel worked as a Web architect for a consulting company. He also has experience providing security, network and infrastructure design for Fortune 1000 companies. Sobel holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary. He can be reached at [email protected].