On August 25, 2017, Americans witnessed the devastation Mother Nature can impose when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston. This powerful event was referred to as a 500-year storm and few people imagined just how destructive the storm would be. FEMA suggests that as many as 40% of the small businesses in the path of Harvey will never recover. These terrible losses should serve as a reminder to business leaders just how important disaster recovery planning is to their organization. There are many aspects to disaster recovery planning. This article addresses disaster recovery in terms of restoring access to information systems and company data in use by your business.
One of the most frightening scenarios for businesses who rely heavily on technology is the possibility of data loss, and yet, few businesses have proper backup and disaster recovery tools in place to protect their most critical assets. What we’re talking about here is more than just the need to create copies of your business data. Few people think about what is really contained on your backup media. If you are only backing up your data and not the systems, software, user accounts and configurations used to access, process and utilize the information, all you have is raw data.
Disaster Recovery is More Than Just Backup
What would happen if your computers and servers were destroyed? If all you have are copies of your raw data, what are you going to do with it? Your accounting files, spreadsheets, word processing documents and specialty databases all require access to the software used to create the files in order to access and use the data. Do you have the installation software and installations keys stored somewhere safe? How long will it take you to reinstall and reconfigure all that software? How long will it take to order and receive new hardware? How long will it take to reconfigure it upon arrival? Most importantly, how is business getting done while you are dealing with all of this?
We never know when disaster is going to strike our businesses, and we have no excuse not to prepare. The time and cost associated to proper planning in no way compares to the time and cost you will incur when a disaster strikes.
Cloud Based Disaster Recovery Systems
Cloud based disaster recovery systems provide a remedy to these challenges. The systems are affordable, and they provide so much more than just data backup.
A complete disaster recovery plan includes a backup of your entire system including operating systems, security configurations, and software applications in addition to your business data. Cloud based recovery systems create an image of your entire server to a backup device of your choice housed inside your office. A copy of your server’s image is uploaded regularly to the cloud. Should your server fail, your server image is spun up in the cloud providing you with remote access to the server and all its applications within minutes, not days, after the failure.
Testing is Crucial
When was the last time you tested your backup system? I do not mean that you verified that your data copied correctly. I mean, when was the last time you performed a complete and thorough disaster recovery test?
In a traditional environment – one where only data is backed up – disaster recovery testing is very difficult. First, you must purchase or have access to a duplicate set of server hardware. You must also have copies of all applications installed including their license keys. A thorough test requires you to reinstall the server operating system and all applications on the server. You must reconfigure the server, setup user accounts, and finally, download your data from offsite backup storage. It is a very time consuming and expensive endeavor, and consequently, no one does it. And yet, not performing this activity at least once per year is very risky. You need to be able to trust your backups, and you can only trust them if you can test them.
Datto reports that more than 15 percent of businesses are operating today with no data backup or business continuity solution. The way in which offsite backups happen and the ability to easily perform restoration tests as a result has fundamentally changed the way disaster recovery should be done. If you are a company whose operations depend on your computer data, you owe it to yourself to investigate cloud based disaster recovery solutions. We don’t know when Mother Nature will strike but planning and preparedness is critical to ensuring the ongoing livelihood of your business.