There are plenty of challenges that US businesses face and overcome, but the COVID-19 pandemic is on a different level. It caused an economic fallout that forced many organizations to shut down and left more struggling to carry out day-to-day operations.
This global health crisis is certain to have more significant repercussions in the long term, which shows just how crucial it is for a business to prepare for disasters. To effectively minimize the potential damages of future crises, your business should have a robust backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan.
What is a backup and disaster recovery plan?
A BDR plan is a set of instructions, protocols, and procedures designed to protect employees, critical data, and other essential business components in the event of a disaster. It could be a natural disaster, a cyberattack, sudden stay-at-home/quarantine orders, or any other disruptive event.
Essentially, this plan must include strategies for resiliency, or ways that allow a business to quickly bounce back from adverse situations by swiftly resuming key operations and minimizing potential damages. Taking long to recover can result in dissatisfied customers, lost revenue, and brand damage), so a good BDR strategy must enable rapid recovery in various instances.
What are the main components of a backup and disaster recovery plan?
Generally, a BDR plan comprises two courses of action — one for backing up data and another for resuming business-critical systems. The backup plan includes steps in securing copies of essential company files and data. Meanwhile, the disaster recovery plan sets down strategic measures for responding to a disaster situation, which include bringing the backups into play.
The scope of your BDR plan will depend on a variety of factors, including what applications you use, where you store data, and more. In some instances, you’ll also have to consider data archiving needs and regulatory compliance.
If you want to learn more about the differences between data backup and disaster recovery, Integrated Computer Services’ experts can explain further.
What are the elements of an effective backup and disaster recovery plan?
There are several factors to consider when planning to ensure the security and continuity of your business’s data and systems. Keep in mind these five crucial elements to ensure the effectiveness of your BDR plan.
1. Risk assessment and business impact analysis
The primary goal of disaster recovery is to reduce risk. As such, a list of hazards and risk factors that can potentially harm your business is vital to your BDR plan. You should consider various circumstances that can affect your operations, and evaluate how likely each is to occur and how severe its impact can be. Then, decide on the best measures your business can take to effectively eliminate or manage these risks.
In addition to conducting a risk assessment, you should look into the potential repercussions of these disruptions. In particular, you’ll want to estimate the amount you stand to lose — or maybe even gain — in light of these disasters. By conducting a business impact analysis, you will know which recovery strategies and resources are most necessary for business continuity.
2. Business-critical asset identification
You must identify the systems, applications, data, and other resources that are most crucial for business continuity. You should incorporate into your BDR plan detailed documentation on how to properly restore or recover these assets, and determine acceptable recovery goals and time frames. Certain systems may need to be back in operation as quickly as possible, especially if you’re working in an industry such as healthcare.
The 3-2-1 backup rule is perhaps the best approach to protecting and preserving your data in almost any case of failure or disaster. It states that at all times, you should have three copies of your data (one primary and two backups) stored in two different storage media, with one of these backups located off-site. The off-site location must be at least 500 miles from where your primary copy is kept, so your backup won’t be affected by any local accident or natural catastrophe.
4. Testing and optimization
It’s important to assess how well your BDR strategies are likely to perform in an actual disaster. If you can’t hold simulations, you can instead evaluate your plan through tests and exercises to ensure that your backups and recovery measures are as effective as they need to be.
Essentially, your plan covers all the bases if it:
- Specifies the role of each employee in various disaster situations
- Lists the courses of action in order of priority (to ensure accurate and timely responses)
- Contains up-to-date information (e.g., emergency contact numbers and point persons)
Regularly test and optimize your BDR plan, taking into account even the slightest business changes to ensure its effectiveness.
5. Disaster recovery team
The best way to ensure that your BDR strategies are developed and implemented correctly is to have a dedicated disaster recovery team. The members of this team are responsible for creating, documenting, and executing processes and procedures for recovering data and ensuring business continuity.
But if your business is short on staff, you may want to consider outsourcing BDR to a trusted managed services provider like Integrated Computer Services. Our trained technicians will implement a secure, automated backup system, and also regularly test your backups for integrity, security, and recoverability. All of this ensures that your critical business assets will be restored within mere minutes.
6. BDR binder
It's equally important that regular employees know what to do in case of a disaster to avoid alarm and other complications that could keep your disaster recovery efforts from going smoothly. Therefore, it’s helpful to have a compilation of BDR-related documents and policies geared toward non-IT teams. For instance, if the power in your office suddenly goes out, this resource will guide your regular employees through what to do and whom to call instead of waiting for your disaster recovery team to get on it.
Enlist expert help
Thorough preparation is vital to surviving and recovering from any disaster. To ensure that you cover all your BDR bases, enlist the help of experienced professionals. We at Integrated Computer Services can help you properly address various disaster situations and minimize business disruptions and potential downtime.