Has your organization spent any time on Disaster Planning? Have you ever considered what would happen if your business suffered a disaster? How will your business survive a disaster? Do you have employees trained in key areas? Do you have adequate backups of the data? Do you know how to restore the data? These are questions you should be asking yourselves as business owners.
Disaster planning isn’t just protecting data but encompasses business continuity — from backups of critical data to employee training and readiness to stand by computers or quick access to funds to purchase replacement equipment. Disaster planning should be a key integral part of your business strategy and should be tested often to ensure its resiliency and effectiveness. While we recognize that some business owners neither have the time or knowledge; they should consider consulting with a firm such as Code Blue Computing that can help with disaster planning.
You may be saying to yourself “Disaster? There aren’t any natural disasters in Colorado.” While Colorado doesn’t have earthquakes, volcanoes, or tsunami’s, we do have extreme wildfires and tornadoes (on the eastern plains mostly). Let’s take wildfires since they have been so prevalent in the news. In 2012, Colorado saw the greatest number of wildfires in a decade causing nearly 35,000 people to be evacuated. Numerous fires raged for weeks and months which were started by both man and nature. The combined fires destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Of those businesses, a countless number did not have a contingency plan in place to prepare them for such a disaster. Statistics show that 60% of all businesses that lose their data go out of business within 6 months of the disaster. While some may be thinking about backups at a simple level — that is making sure you have backup copy on an external drive or USB stick — that simply is not sufficient. Your backups should be offsite. If you have a fire, you not only lose your primary data, but chances are you will lose your backup data too.
Don’t just plan for data corruption or missing files. Your disaster plan needs to include contingencies for how your business will survive a disaster. Your plan should include:
- Identify vulnerabilities and threats
- Example include fire and/or other destruction of building and burglary as thieves can steal computers with sensitive data.
- Analyze impact of cyber attack to website.
- Identify resources for responding to emergencies
- List your employees responsible for key areas of business continuance and data recovery. Also, list backup personnel in the event the primary team is incapacitated.
- Inventory key systems that are required to continue business and ensure they have backups.
- List insurance providers, vendors and other resources necessary business resumption.
- Establish an emergency training plan
- Orient employees on specific business resumption plans and document plan. Hold exercises as necessary to minimize downtime.
- Include CPR training for employees so they can provide first aid if necessary.
- Make and maintain emergency contact lists. Limit who can modify list but ensure list is distributed to key personnel.
- Assess primary and secondary communication systems
- Land line, cell phones, internet, text messaging, CB radios, etc. Depending on the nature of the disaster, it may not hurt to identify individuals with ham radio licenses and equipment for extreme scenarios where land line, cell towers and internet are knocked out or when CB range is inadequate.
- Data backup of key systems
- Ensure key systems are scheduled to do backups nightly
- Offsite the backup. Our preferred choice of off site is a backup so that business owners don’t have to worry about carrying around a DVD or external hard drive / USB stick is to use an online cloud based backup service such as IDrive, secure backup solution that is nearly automatic in setup and requires no attention. Code Blue Computing even monitors your backup (when you sign up for the service through us) so you can get on with running your business without having to worry about your backups.
- Line up necessary resources to purchase/make ready equipment as needed
- Does equipment need to be purchased quickly to continue the business?
- Once new equipment is in place, the data can be restored from backups,
- Test your disaster plan regularly.
- Check your backups to ensure they are working. There is nothing more tragic that getting into a false sense of security thinking that backups are working. A lot of people rely on external hard drives with “special” backup software. The truth is that software doesn’t work most of the time and there is no way for you to know unless you check the backup daily. A lot of our customers call us because their hard drive crashed but are under the impression they are safe because they have “backups” only to come to the real hard fact that the external drive itself has either failed or the backup didn’t backup the necessary files didn’t work at all. Our cloud based backup by IDrive solves these problems. It uses military strength encryption from the moment your data leaves your computer and stays encrypted on the IDrive cloud servers. The servers themselves are redundantly backed up / replicated across the United States. Only you can access your data because you hold the encryption key necessary to restore it.
- Ensure your employees are kept abreast of the plan and any changes. Document the plan and ensure all staff are aware of it. The biggest problem with some disaster plans are that employees either forget what to do or were never properly trained. Ensure your key personnel responsible for recovering data are available and fully up to date on the plan. We would even venture to say that having a monthly staff meeting on disaster planning / training would be in order too. Some might think it’s overkill, especially for businesses with low turnover but we believe in a strong disaster plan and the better prepared a business, the more likely it is to survive a disaster.
There are many different layers to Disaster Planning each of them equally important. Business owners who do not prepare for a disaster could very well find themselves vulnerable at the worst time. Take the time to make a disaster plan now, and your business will have every chance to weather any storm thrown at it.
Code Blue Computing, headquartered out of Broomfield, Colorado is a top provider of IT Services to businesses in the Metro Denver Area. They specialize in Small Business Disaster Planning. Computer Sales and Service, Networking, Data Backup and Recovery, Cloud Based Backup Services, Server Setup and Maintenance. They can be contacted via telephone at 720-746-9763.