"Winter is Coming" - Do You Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place?

disaster recovery planFrom clearing up the snow in your storefront to hiring seasonal staff members, winter presents a number of unique challenges to a business. Did you know that data protection is one of them? Having a data protection and data recovery plan in place is absolutely essential for businesses facing the chilly winter months.

Increased Activity Means Increased Risk

Nearly all businesses experience increased web traffic during the holiday season. This is true even of service-oriented companies: many individuals attempt to get tasks that they have been putting off done towards the end or beginning of the year. The more your web traffic increases, the more likely you are to experience issues such as downtime. Take action to ensure that you have a server infrastructure that can support an increase in activity without either crashing or slowing. A slow or crashed server isn't just a problem to deal with - it will cost you sales.

Hackers Are More Active During the Winter

According to research, winter is the most active time of year for hackers. There may be a variety of reasons for this, but some speculate that being indoors so often leads individuals to more solitary pursuits - such as taking advantage of vulnerabilities in a company's security. If you're going to experience a data breach or other malicious act, winter is the most likely time. Be proactive about your enterprise security by conducting a risk assessment and securing your data beforehand.

Physical, Weather-Related Issues May Damage Your Infrastructure

Not all of your company's threats will originate from cyberspace. Physical threats such as El Niño could potentially damage your offices or server space. This illustrates one of many reasons why data backups should be in a separate physical location from your active servers. Fires are also more common during the winter months because of an increased need for heating. By keeping regular data backups through a service that is physically separate from your company's physical infrastructure, you can easily recover your data in the event of hardware failure or loss.

Winter is coming. Before it arrives, consider creating a comprehensive data protection and recovery plan. A data protection plan will include regular data backups in addition to the ability to quickly restore and deploy your data. CWPS's Easy Data Protection is the easy, simple way to keep your company's data safe. Contact us today if you want to learn more about the dangers facing your business.

Why Data Backup and a Disaster Recovery Plan Are Not the Same Thing

Disaster Recovery StartDon't assume that you have a reliable disaster recovery plan just because you have a data backup solution. While important, a data backup solution is only one component of a disaster recovery plan. There are other elements, such as threat detection and service redundancies, that also play a critical role. In this post, we discuss why a disaster recovery plan is different from data backup and why it is so important that you have a plan in place.

The Danger of Relying on Data Backups Alone

Consider this scenario: your system has been backed up on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis since inception, so you think you're safe. You may have stored them on a private server in another location, on a co-located disk or through a cloud-based backup solution. Regardless, one day, in the middle of the day, you begin getting phone calls. Your service is down and you didn't even know it -- worse yet, your current files are corrupted. No problem, you think; I'll just restore the backup. But while the system is still going, it's churning out new data, none of which is being stored on the backup system. No one knows how to take down the system to restore the backup and no one knows what to tell the clients when they can't reach their services. Once you do finally bring up the backup -- which loses the new data that you had captured and gives you no way to contact the clients that had entered that data -- your system begins to malfunction again.

Scenarios like this are not uncommon, which is why every business needs to have a plan in place to deal with such disasters – one that doesn’t rely purely on backups.

What a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan Looks Like

Essentially, a recovery plan is all about what goes on before, during and after a disaster. There are different elements to a plan, ranging from recovering primary systems as quickly as possible to switching to feature-complete, redundant secondary systems. A solid plan will include a maintenance and supervision procedure or solution that will alert you the moment something is wrong with your system.

Employees need to be trained to react quickly if disaster does strike so that they immediately switch over to redundant systems so that data is not lost. A comprehensive recovery plan will tell your business how to deal with critical issues such as security problems, by locking down data and reducing the risk of a cyber-intrusion. A plan will also include client outreach; employees will know how and when to alert customers to potential business disruption in order to minimize damage.

A disaster recovery plan is not optional for modern businesses. Most companies today are reliant upon their digital infrastructure for the bulk of their business operations. If you don’t have a formal plan in place, then you should develop one immediately.

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5 Things Every IT Disaster Recovery Plan Should Include

it-disaster-recovery-planIt’s human nature to avoid addressing worst case scenarios unless you absolutely have to. But if you’re a business owner, sticking your head in the sand until something goes wrong is no longer a viable strategy to adopt. Especially in today’s technological landscape, where getting hacked or even a natural disaster can derail your business operations through protracted amounts of downtime, in addition to critical and confidential company data becoming compromised or worse, lost and unrecoverable.

The best way to be prepared is to proactively develop and implement a disaster recovery strategy before catastrophe strikes. But what should a good, comprehensive IT disaster recovery plan include?

  1. Backup Solutions for Data
    While you may have on-site redundancies in place for your company’s files and information, it is now considered a necessity to have an off-site cloud backup solution in place, as well. Not only do cloud solutions address
    convenience and security concerns, they also enable ease of data recovery in the event that something goes wrong.

  2. Disaster Recovery Team
    A disaster recovery plan for your organization will only be as effective as the team you put behind it. That means you should have a team of employees – both IT and operations-focused – who are briefed and ready in case of an emergency. In addition to ensuring knowledge and understanding of the plan and their designated roles by this team, also include and communicate all relevant emergency contact information of those team members within the plan itself.

  3. Third-Party Contact List
    From hardware and software vendors to ISPs and data centers, your disaster recovery plan needs to include a thorough list of all necessary contacts outside of your organization.

  4. Diagrams & Directions
    Outlining network diagrams and procedures for what to do in an emergency should not happen for the first time when something goes wrong. Instead, outline standards of procedures and any necessary diagrams in advance, so you can take immediate action.

  5. Recurring Updates
    A disaster recovery plan should not be considered a static document. To that end, your plan should include scheduled reviews to ensure that everything contained within the plans itself – from contacts to procedures – are up-to-date and aligned with your current business objectives.

Consider a Partner

No matter how large or small the scale of your disaster recovery plan, it’s often a good idea to enlist the assistance of an outsourced IT firm – commonly known as a managed services provider – to either help develop or do a final review of your disaster recovery plan. With a managed services provider, you will have their full team of expertise at your disposal, while you can focus on your more revenue-generating initiatives.

Don’t Forget to Test Your Plan

Once you have an IT disaster recovery plan in place, take the time to walk through test scenarios on a regular basis. It’s because it’s not enough to just have the plan – you need to confirm with your team that your plan is a viable one. Moreover, practice makes perfect; so the more you test your strategy ahead of time, the more prepared you’ll be when something goes wrong.

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