Creating an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

To quote Alan Lakein, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Not to discount Alan, but your business’ IT strategy also needs to plan FOR failure. All things fail at one point. It is important to have a comprehensive plan in place to deal with the failures that will come eventually. There are five main areas you need to have a recovery plan in place for when creating your IT disaster recovery plan.

Server room

A backup power supply is an essential part of your server room equipment. How much power you need will depend on how long you want to be able to use your server room in the event of a power failure. Most power supply units for small businesses will give you just enough time to gracefully shut down your equipment. A power has the potential to severely damage hardware. It is also a great idea to have backup equipment ready to replace anything that has failed, such as a firewall that is already configured, or a new switch waiting in the wings.

Hardware

Recovering from a hardware failure will likely happen at some point in your business. Anything from the entire machine or just a small part of a device can fail. You must plan for this to happen because it most certainly will. The extent of your plan will be up to you. You can usually figure out how much you want to spend by calculating how much money your business will lose by being down. If being down will cost your business $10k a day, then spending $1000 a month for a failover solution should be a no brainer. There are many cloud options that will allow you to be back up and running in minutes as you move over to the backup server. There are cheaper options that won’t be nearly as quick but shouldn’t make you lose any data.

Connectivity

Failover internet connections are almost becoming standard in any business. Most companies rely on an internet connection to do a majority of their business on any given day. Without a reliable connection, you are dead in the water. Typically your failover service wouldn’t need to be as robust as your regular service since you don’t want to pay double for your internet connection when the main service usually works just fine.

Software applications

There are a couple different aspects to this. First is to make sure you have installation discs or license keys in a safe location that can be accessed at any time. If for any reason you need to install the software in a completely new location due to any type of failure, you should be able to do so. The second aspect is more difficult. If you are using a cloud-based application, and the business website goes down, such as when the AWS outage took out Trello and IFTTT, there is not much you can do. You should try to come up with a plan for this though. If your business relies on a specific application, what happens when that company goes out of business, or they have failures of their own. When you are subject to another business, you should definitely have a backup plan or service in the wings ready to pick up where the other company dropped the ball. Never completely trust another organization with your critical business functions.

Data

Good backups in place are the most critical part of your disaster recovery plan. Storage is fairly inexpensive, so frequent backups should be part of the plan. You should be running backups multiple times throughout the day. Also, don’t rely on one backup system. Backing up using 2 different services to 2 different platforms is a great way to make sure your data remains secure. Regularly backup your data through any 3rd party software application you may be running (especially email). As mentioned above, if the company suddenly lost all of your data, or went out of business, what would you need to do to get back on track?

Making sure you have these 5 bases covered will guarantee you will be ready when disaster strikes. Put your plan in place today, and then once a year make sure to practice your disaster recovery plan. Finding out where the weak points are before a disaster hits will be a huge benefit to your organization.