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Disaster Recovery Planning: Preparing for the Worst

"Hope for the best...plan for the worst" sign on a yellow card placed on a white computer keyboard. This image emphasizes the importance of disaster recovery planning for businesses.

Small business owners have a natural tendency to be hopeful. They look to the future optimistically, picturing how their company could grow and prosper in the months and years to come. The last things they want to think about are disasters, and the prospect of their business dreams crumbling away. Sadly, disasters do happen from time to time. They can affect businesses of all sizes, and come in many forms. Floods, fires, hurricanes, hacks, malware, the list just keeps on going. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: disasters don’t have to herald the end of your business. If you prepare right and set up a solid disaster recovery plan, even big disasters might not be as devastating as you’d expect.

The Importance of Disaster Planning

Before we take a look at the key elements of disaster recovery, it’s important to understand why it matters so much. An effective way to do this is through statistics:

These stats show only too clearly why disaster recovery planning is so important, and why it’s never a good idea to assume that your business will be one of the lucky ones.

You could easily fall into that 10% of small businesses that deal with disasters every year, and the consequences could be fatal for your company’s future. Just imagine, for a moment, what would happen if a fire broke out in your workplace, a flood filled your offices, or hackers targeted your network with a vicious ransomware attack.

How would you cope? How much money could you lose? And would it even be possible to bounce back from that?

If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place, the answer to that last question is almost definitely a “No.” But, with proper planning, you can get your business and workforce ready for those worst-case scenarios before it’s too late.

Essential Elements of Disaster Recovery for Small Businesses

We’ve seen why disaster recovery is invaluable, often being the make-or-break factor that determines whether or not a company can survive the harshest of times. Now, let’s explore some of the most crucial elements that should form part of your disaster plan.

File Backups

One of the first things to focus on for disaster recovery is backing up your files. The average business, even a small one, has to store and manage a lot of data, documents, and various file types, from crucial company contracts to compliance forms and customer data.

If you only have paper copies of those files, or digital versions stored on the hardware in your office, it could all go up in smoke if a disaster breaks out. A fire, for example, could wipe out document archives in seconds, and destroy computers, making your digital copies inaccessible.

By backing up your files, and saving those backups on alternative devices, servers, and systems, you’ll still be able to access them, even if the worst happens.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is another strongly recommended element of disaster recovery planning. For the unfamiliar, this involves storing your files and valuable business data on cloud servers. Those servers are entirely virtual and therefore immune to physical damage from the likes of fires, floods, and storms.

In other words, as long as your most important data is on a secure cloud server, there’s almost no way for it to be inadvertently destroyed. Even if a fire broke out in your office, it may do a lot of damage, but it wouldn’t affect your files, whatsoever.

Cloud storage is therefore a good idea for those file backups mentioned in the previous point. With the help of IT experts, you can automatically make backups of your most important files and ship them off to the cloud, safe from harm.

Managed IT Services

Managed IT providers, or managed service providers, are basically like outsourced IT departments. They can take on a range of IT-related tasks, like cybersecurity, network admin, and device monitoring, to supplement your existing IT team, and they can have a crucial role in disaster recovery, too.

Of course, managed IT experts won’t be able to put out fires or magically make storms disappear. But, if you’re dealing with digital disasters, like downtime, data breaches, or malware infections, they can take on a much more active role to stop those situations and minimize the damage.

They typically have remote access to your network, so can track and monitor when a disaster is imminent, taking the next best steps to deal with it. They could block access to certain files to stop the spread of malware, get your network back online after downtime, and implement preventative measures to prevent repeat disasters.

Emergency Response Plans and Training

Naturally, it’s also important to ensure that you have precise, step-by-step response plans in place that you can follow if and when disaster strikes. You’ll also need to ensure that employees are well aware of these plans, know their roles, and understand what to do if a serious event occurs.

For example, a fire preparedness plan might involve letting everyone know which exit routes to follow to leave the building safely, contacting the emergency services, gathering the workers together outside to check that everyone got out, and so on.

There should be plans in place for all possible emergencies your business might face. That goes for the aforementioned digital disasters, too, like a sudden and unexpected ransomware attack or data breach.

Prepare Your Business for the Worst-Case Scenario

Nobody wants to imagine those worst-case scenarios like fires and floods. They’d much prefer to think of positive futures for their businesses and focus on growing their companies and doing what they do best.

However, preparing for disasters is an integral part of being a responsible, mature boss or business owner. And luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Help is at hand in the form of trusted IT specialists, like JD Young. For disaster recovery assistance in and around Tulsa, contact our experts today.

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