Disaster Recovery Planning
Your web server or reseller account is up and running. You made sure that the important data is being backed up or that you are using redundant systems to keep everything up and running without risking the loss of data. But how are you protecting your actual business that you are running from your home? What happens if your house burns down or is taken apart by a Tornado? Or somebody breaks into your house and steals your computer equipment?
You might have home owners insurance but does it cover equipment used for a business? Many policies actually do not cover business and personal property at the same time. Check with your insurance agent to take care of these things if necessary. But even if your equipment is protected – how about the data itself? Sure, you probably backup all important data and files to a CD-Rom. You’re protected, right?! Where do you store the CD-Rom? On your desk? In a cabinet? What would happen if the house burns down? You could get a fire-proof safe but will this be sufficient? As a responsible business owner you should think about an off-site storage solution. Backing up the data onto a CD is a good thing, but storing it in a bank safe is even smarter. Bank safes do not cost a lot to rent and you could use one anyway to have your birth certificate and passport in a safe location. My bank charges me $40 per year for a bank safe and all my important paperwork and off-site storage needs are met. The fee for the safe is even tax deductible in many cases (please contact your accountant to verify).
How often do you do your data backup? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? What happens if your hard drive crashes tomorrow? Can you recover within 4 hours or less? If your business depends on a single computer and a single hard drive – plan ahead. Nothing worse than having a hard drive failure and not being prepared for it. Also have copies of the operating system CD and software available. It is recommended to have copies at your house and the originals in your bank safe.
Is that all you will need for disaster recovery? No, it is not. Imagine your house burns down – how are you going to support your customers? How are you going to monitor your systems? What about billing and invoicing? How do you get Internet Access? What computer are you going to use if your old one is a piece of smoking junk? How are your employees and technicians going to get in touch with you during the time of crisis? These things need to be looked and planned for. Setup a plan that will lay out where you will stay and how you get access to the basic business tools (computer, Internet). Make arrangements for your employees to be able to respond properly when your business operation is basically shutdown. Your documentation should contain all contact information for every business partner and employee. You don’t want the data center to shutdown your servers because you are maxing out your credit card to buy food and clothes for you and your family. Make sure you can contact your service providers and they know how to get a hold of you. Have keys and information for your bank safe available off-site, too. Nothing is worse than having a bank safe that you can’t open because you left both keys in the same location (your burned down house).
Your documentation should list in detail what the steps are that you will need to follow. During crisis you will forget important things. Plan for it ahead. You will be stressed and under pressure. A detailed plan telling you what you will need to do will reduce the pressure and the stress and also will help to not lose your source of income. Also make sure that you frequently re-visit your disaster recovery plan and update it whenever necessary.
The Small Business Administration offers loans for disaster victims:
Quote: The amount of money that the SBA will lend you will be based upon the actual cost of repairing or replacing your home and/or personal property, minus any insurance settlements or other reimbursements or grants. The total loan amount is subject to the limits set out above.
Please visit the SBA’s website for all the necessary infomation if you are a victim of a disaster and need help (loan).
Does a new business needs the same protection as an established business? Yes and no. A bank safe should be a mandatory thing as well as daily or weekly backups (including off-site storage). Everything else can follow – but should be always on your mind.
Let’s hope that you will never have to execute this disaster recovery plan. But having it available in time of crisis is important and will give you the peace of mind to be prepared.