Back up and Disaster Recovery – Five Common Mistakes

Businesses are aware of the impact that a well-crafted backup and disaster recovery plan has on their organization. These plans are critical to avoid exorbitant downtime costs and to keep businesses running smoothly.

As your business grows and with regulations changing rapidly, your disaster recovery and backup plan needs to change. While no DR plan is 100% fail-safe, with careful planning you can develop one to fit your needs. The following are five common mistakes concerning back up and disaster recovery.

  1. A Plan

In most cases, the IT department creates the DR plan; however, recovery is a companywide responsibility. Best practice is to work with an outside recovery partner for plan revisions. An effective DR plan includes business leaders, frontline users, legal, and those who order data and mission-critical applications.

  1. People

While back up disaster and recovery contains IT equipment and data, it should also include communications, facilities and people. Employees should be trained on best practices to follow within your companies DR plan to ensure your business is up and running in no time.

  1. Testing / forget to test plan regular basis

A common mistake is controlling every phase a test is performed to a set of systems. A best practice is to let management know that a test is taking place. The goal is to mimic as close to failure as possible to assure the plan is sound as if a true disaster occurred.

  1. Local back up only

In this situation businesses are comforted that their back up is local. Local backup does solve the most common of data loss, accidentally deleting a folder or file – but is susceptible to natural disasters, fire and floods.

  1. No contingency plan

It is a good practice to have multiple plans in case what can go wrong. To assume everything will go as you planned for backup and DR, is a big mistake. Be sure to document a process that includes what should be done if the person responsible is unavailable. Share your plan with your IT provider as well as getting an outside opinion.

It is likely that any change to your business or IT systems will directly impact your back up and disaster recovery plan. Test your plan on a regular basis and review the results from the test. Be sure to update your DR plan based on the results of your test.


Have You Tested Your Vendor’s Restore Speed Lately?

clockBusinesses today often rely on offsite services for everything from application functionality to data storage. These solutions, which are hosted in the cloud and accessible from a variety of devices, give professionals the ability to reach their files and software from anywhere.

One major selling point to businesses considering making a switch to cloud hosting is the lack of downtime in the event of an emergency. Mother Nature can wipe out an office complex in only a few minutes, taking with it the vital PCs and servers used to power daily operations. Through a cloud service, business information is stored off-site, in a secure location, allowing for continuity in the event of a disaster.

Data Restoration

But with so many cloud vendors, businesses have a variety of options. It’s important not to settle for a vendor who might not have your business’s best interests at heart. Even if you’re currently under contract, it’s important to ensure the vendor is meeting its promises regarding uptime, security, and reliability.

One promise many cloud vendors make involves data restoration. Files can easily be lost due to user deletions or hard drive errors, so it’s imperative that all cloud vendors are backing up data offsite. But even if a vendor promises this, how do businesses know files will be restored quickly in the event they’re lost?

Testing the System

Unless a business has an error-prone employee on staff, chances are its cloud vendors aren’t asked to restore files very often. But a file restore request may be exactly what a company needs to test its cloud service. This request can provide valuable insight into response times and vendor abilities, possibly helping vendors decide whether to continue with a provider or not.

An important part of disaster recovery is having quick, efficient restoration of the files and apps a business needs. By carefully checking SLAs and occasionally testing a provider’s restore capabilities, a business can learn just how a vendor will perform in an urgent situation.

Could Your Business’s Data Backup Survive a Disaster?

hurricaneCloud services have moved the process of backing up data from on-site personnel to trained professionals. Whether you’re contracting with a third-party provider or storing your data on premise, it’s imperative that you ensure that data is safe and accessible in the event of a disaster.

The Facts

Despite the massive natural disasters that occur each year, many businesses are vulnerable to data loss and financial devastation in the event of a flood, hurricane, fire, or other occurrence. A recent study found that while 75 percent of small businesses use some form of backup for data, a whopping 63 percent rely on on-site methods such as external hard drives. Only 39 percent report that they rely on cloud services to ensure their data is protected.

Even those businesses who regularly back up on-site server data may be vulnerable. If those backups aren’t being moved to a safe, off-premise location, a natural disaster could take out a business’s equipment, backup media, and paper documents in one swoop. Insurance won’t make up for the damage, since most business insurance doesn’t cover data loss.

Understanding the Options

For SMBs, there are more options than ever for data backups. As recently as a few years ago, these businesses were required to assign a professional the task of creating backups and moving them to an offsite location. This process not only cost money, but it was also prone to human error, since the assigned staff member may have had numerous other responsibilities.

With so many cloud storage options now available, however, businesses have access to providers that specialize in keeping data safe. These providers usually have secondary data centers located in other areas of the world to disaster-proof client data. But knowing data backups are in the hands of a team of professionals who are 100 percent dedicated to protecting against data loss is perhaps the biggest benefit to cloud data storage. For this reason, the days of on-site data storage and backup are likely limited for businesses of all sizes.

Hurricane Isaac and Disaster Recovery

Article first published as Hurricane Isaac and Disaster Recovery on Technorati.

As Tropical Storm Isaac threatens to hit the Florida shore, there’s no doubt some business owners in the area are scared. They’re worried about their safety and that of their employees, of course. And they’re worried about damage to their buildings and vehicles. But many are surely also concerned about their data—customer information, sales records, payroll and budget information, and everything else they keep on their computers.

Safety and property damage will always be an issue when major storms roll in. But in 2012, there’s no reason why the threat of data loss should cause anyone additional headaches. Remote backup solutions and cloud storage are available to businesses of every size at every price point.

Yet many companies aren’t taking advantage of what’s available. A study released earlier this year found that less than 40 percent of small to mid-sized businesses use any kind of cloud data storage.

The start of hurricane season should serve as a powerful reminder of why more companies should shift to remote backup. Last year, the season brought 19 tropical storms, including seven full-fledged hurricanes, to the U.S. Insured losses from the season came to about $5 billion, according to Risk Management Solutions Inc.

Of course, those losses were mostly physical property. But data loss can be even more devastating than a wrecked office. Seventy percent of small firms that have a major data loss go out of business within a year, according to a report by HP and the small-business advisory organization SCORE.

Even if you live far from Florida, there’s good reason to make sure your data is backed up in the cloud. According to the HP report, only 40 percent of data loss is caused by the destruction of hardware. Nineteen percent is the fault of software problems or viruses, and a full 38 percent is caused by human error or theft.

A good backup or cloud storage system can protect you against all those issues. It can also offer other advantages, like access to all your information when you’re away from the office. That means that, whether a flood sweeps your server away or an ice storm keeps your employees stuck at home, work can continue without missing a beat.