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Developing A Disaster Recovery Plan: Everything You Need to Know to Safeguard Your Business Data

As you search for a dependable way to secure your business assets, you must be stumbling across lots of articles insisting on a good backup plan as the surest way to do so. The sad truth, however, is that rather than implement a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy, many managers create a false sense of security for themselves by merely backing up their data to a cloud. In the issue, 2 in 3 businesses still don’t have a Disaster Recovery Plan in spite of the fact that 49% of them admit it would take at least three months to recover from a catastrophe… whereas, according to the most recent statistics, 60% of companies go out of business within 6 months after experiencing severe data loss, and staggering 93% of businesses that didn’t have a recovery plan disappear within one year after major data loss.

But one thing at a time.


Disaster Recovery Plan VS Backup

Backup vs Disaster Recovery Plan - SALVAGEDATA

Unquestionably, regular data backups are essential for when a server goes down, or your data center suffers a power outage. Along with that, the method has a number of significant drawbacks that could put your data at risk, and turn out useless when it comes to:


  • Technical issues. Inconsistent error handling, flaky hardware, bit rot, phantom writes and more may give a user file systems problems they won’t be able to handle. And backup won’t handle them either.


  • Increased downtime. Data backups alone — especially if they are cloud-based — can’t guarantee a quick recovery, meaning all the necessary applications won’t be running, and your workers won’t be able to access data until the company’s systems are restored. 


  • Security concerns. Finally, there are plenty of risks associated with data security in cloud-based backups. While it’s your responsibility to ensure your files are as secure as possible (see: dual encryption), information placed in the cloud remains vulnerable to the same threats as the Internet as a whole. Given the possibility of your cloud services vendor getting attacked by cybercriminals — or any other problems that may arise in a public cloud environment (like the occurrence of cloud configuration errors) — it’s crucial to understand that your business assets may be potentially exposed to serious danger.  Learn more about the main security issues here.


Along with that, about three-quarters of businesses have experienced infrastructure outages during the given year. Most of them are caused by human errors, hardware failures, power supply issues, or network disruptions — and not by natural disasters such as storms and earthquakes. Backups don’t help with such types of problems, but disaster recovery solutions do.


A Data Recovery Plan (DRP) poses multiple approaches that includes assessing the value of the data, identifying the step-by-step processes needed to get your organization back on track, and much more. After all, the main purpose is to ensure your assets, information, and hardware are protected enough to recover from a disaster in the shortest time possible.


Disaster Recovery Plan Structure


Now, what should be included in a disaster recovery plan? To assist, in the thorough disaster recovery plan template below we’ve gathered all the key components and best data protection practices to lean on when developing a business continuity strategy.  


Roles And Responsibilities

In the event of a disaster, Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) — the estimated duration your business will require to recover — will heavily rely on effective communication within your team, and can be increased through proper assignment of roles. Thus, first and foremost, it’s important to instruct exactly what your employees’ roles and liabilities are, and assign those responsible for setting up workstations, replacing hardware and equipment that was damaged, redirecting phone services, and so on. 


Risk Assessment Management

A major part of the disaster recovery planning process lies in the assessment of potential risks and menaces to the organization. A good IT risk assessment must involve all the possible incident types, their likelihood, and impact each may have on the organization’s ability to continue to deliver its regular business services. To be consistent, it’s better to divide them into 4 main categories like in the following disaster recovery plan example:

Risk Assessment Management

Temporary Backup Server Strategy

A temporary backup server strategy will require a credible disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) provider that is able to implement off-site cloud-based backups using a system like Veeam. It will allow your team to use Instant-On Server technology to spin up an exact copy of your server in the cloud so that your employees can maintain business processes and continue working in the wake of a catastrophe. Server-side replications may reduce your hardware recovery time from days to less than 15 minutes.


Emergency Backup Power System

Installing a generator is a great option in the event of a sudden power outage. With an average hour of downtime worth $8,000 for a small company, a standby generator can cope with local power surges as well as severe power outages caused by natural disasters, which may save your company thousands in the long-term. Just be sure to hire a certified electrician to help you identify the right system for your business needs.


Disaster Plan for Physical Equipment

This one is particularly vital for companies located in areas with seasonal natural disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes — as they need to get their equipment protected from adverse weather. Now, to safeguard the electronics from water damage, you’ll need to move any equipment off the floor and place it into a room without windows. Then, it is important to create a barrier against water by wrapping the electronics securely using heavy-duty plastic wrap. Finally, if possible, it’s recommended to seal your equipment in waterproof containers, or/and bring critical hardware, such as servers, off-site to a safer location.


Data & Backups Location

Taking an inventory of your storage locations is a part of a data continuity plan, and the role of the latter is difficult to overestimate when it comes to a dependable disaster recovery plan. You’ll have to document where exactly your assets are stored, who has access to them, and what data is vital to business operations compared to non-critical systems or files. Additionally, make sure to schedule and maintain regular image backups of your servers and critical workstations — preferably off-site or in the cloud, so that backup copies don’t get affected by a local distress, and remain available.


Backup Testing Procedures

Be sure to backup your information in regular intervals. It is best to follow what is known as the “3-2-1 data backup rule”, implying you should retain at least three copies of your data, keep two backup copies on different storage media, and have one of them located off-site.


Also, remember that your Disaster Recovery Plan is only as good as the last test you have performed. Once the job is done, it is vital to verify each component of your business continuity strategy to eliminate the possibility of anything going wrong. 


Emergency Contact List

As every enterprise has service providers that are essential to its business operations, it is extremely important to have an up-to-date contacts list of vendors that can be reached out for help in the event of disaster recovery. Our recommendation is to update your emergency contact list at least quarterly and store it off-site or in the cloud.


Employee Remote Work Plan

Having a post-disaster “Remote Work Policy” will make it easier to get involved for those employees who aren’t able to proceed with their work from the office. At the same time, having your staff instructed on the security guidelines for using the web from a remote site — such as connection to public networks via VPN, not saving protected documents directly to your personal drive, and keeping all work on saved networks for access, — is a sure way to significantly mitigate potential data loss and leakage risks.