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What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Data Disaster Recovery Plans: What You Need to Know to Stay Prepared

Failing to plan is planning to fail. These words could not be more true for the world of information technology. Whether you are new to IT and only have a small system or you are a seasoned pro managing a complex network of thousands of backbone servers, you will need to develop a disaster recovery plan in case your data is ever lost or compromised.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery plan, or DRP for short, is simply a precautionary measure all business should take to protect their IT infrastructure in the event of a catastrophe. It needs to be in written form and as detailed as possible, so there are fewer questions during the event of a disaster. It should be specific, comprehensive, and unique to your business. What works for one business probably is not going to work for another due to the ever present differences in all systems and the vast array of things that can go wrong.

Why do I need one?

It is estimated that large businesses lose anywhere from $84,000 to $90,000 every hour that their system is down. Multiply this over the course of an entire 8-hour workday and that’s $720,000 out the door. And that one-day span provides only a generous estimate, as over 50% of all downtime events last longer than a full workday. The damage that a downed IT system can do in a short period of time can be crippling. Of those who suffer a data disaster, a staggering 93% are out of business within just one year. On the other hand, 96% of the companies who planned ahead and developed a plan for recovery were able to survive the storm.

What can really go wrong?

Anything and everything can go wrong with your IT system. This may sound dramatic, but it is nothing to take lightly. One of the most common data disasters is a complete loss of data. That means losing everything that you’ve been storing since the beginning, such as information on clients and prospects, all of your files, documents, research papers...literally every single thing you have stored electronically can vanish. This typically happens because of a hardware failure, as they account for 45% of all data loss and downtime. Some other causes are power loss, software failure, data corruption, external security breaches, and accidental use error.

How do I create one?

You can start by asking around in-house to see what people know about disaster recovery and the strength of the system you are using. Odds are, your IT department will be able to give you baseline knowledge, but you will need to outsource the actual plan drafting to an experienced firm. There are plenty of tech agencies out there that deal with disaster recovery and will be willing to help you on a consultation basis. Your plan should be written so it is set in stone as well as explained thoroughly to avoid any questions. Once the plan is created, your next step is to train all of your employees on the ins and outs of the new strategy in place. Make sure your entire IT department is aware of the plan and has access to the exact procedure that will be taken in the event of a disaster. Your plan is written for a reason.

Our best tip

Don’t let too many irons get in the fire. If something does go wrong, you need one person to be in charge of delegating how to make it go right. Often times, everyone believes their way is the best way and they try to be a hero. This leads to too many choices being made and a lack of communication. So give one person the majority of the responsibility and make sure everyone knows their role in the recovery plan to avoid chaos and confusion.

Don’t be part of the 75% of small businesses that don’t have a data disaster recovery plan. Consult with your IT team or outsource to more experienced professionals to develop the right plan for you. No two businesses are the same, just as no two data systems are the same. Developing a plan that is unique to your business may take some time, but it will be nothing compared to the time and money you will lose if your system ever goes dark. It is not a matter of if you will ever need to recover your data, but when you will need to do so. Technology is never perfect, so make sure you are prepared for the worst.

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