We all like to convince ourselves that the worst will never come to pass. Particularly in business, the time and money that can be required to make contingency plans often don’t seem worth it. Such plans get delayed or put off entirely as people argue about their necessity, and sideline them through short-term thinking.
Unfortunately, the reality isn’t often that accommodating. From leaks to fires to electrical and equipment failures, all sorts of issues can seriously jeopardize your business, and leave you struggling to respond. By investing in a disaster recovery plan, you can not only mitigate against the damage caused by a major failure, but also ensure your business doesn’t dip, and stays productive come rain or shine.
What Is Disaster Recovery?
A disaster recovery policy, often shortened to DR or DRP, is a contingency plan that goes into effect when a critical aspect of your business’s IT infrastructure is compromised. With most businesses conducting the majority of their work on computers, this generally means anything which severely impedes your usual workflow. That could include the loss of servers containing vital files, or the loss of hardware that employees use to fulfill their roles.
Issues that might invoke a disaster recovery plan could include accidental deletion, illegal access, or physical factors such as flooding, equipment and hardware failures, or structural damage. A disaster recovery plan helps you to avoid a major drop in productivity by providing redundancies for your critical IT systems, as well as access to a temporary working environment if required.
Disaster recovery plans tend to be written in conjunction with your business continuity plan. While a business continuity plan provides a framework for sustaining operations in the event of a disaster, disaster recovery focuses on restoring services after a disaster and smoothing the transition from disaster response back to a normal working environment.
A disaster recovery plan will usually detail specific timescales for restoring data, and lasts beyond the boundaries of a typical business continuity plan. Both plans will kick into gear at the moment of a business disaster: the business continuity plan aims to solve the short-term problems involved, while the disaster recovery plan outlines the steps that are needed to get things back to normal.
Why Is Disaster Recovery Important?
Having a disaster recovery plan is useful for the same reason that any plan is useful: it gives you something to fall back on when things go wrong. Business disasters may be relatively rare, but they’re a common enough occurrence to worry about. Data security is a tangible threat to most businesses today, and something as simple as plugging in an infected USB stick could leave your entire network held to ransom.
Failing to produce a disaster recovery plan – and to have the relationships in place to execute it (e.g. with IT service providers) – leaves you extremely vulnerable to accidental or malicious damage. Should something happen to your systems or data, you could lose important files, be unable to work for an extended period, and miss out on crucial business opportunities and information.
A disaster recovery plan provides a contingency for every foreseeable disaster situation, and more importantly, a roadmap back to normality. In the event of a disaster, you will have a checklist that the business can carry out to determine the problem, and solve it in the most efficient manner possible. Coalescing with your business continuity plan, you will be able to immediately deploy backup systems and data, and know exactly how long the problem will take to fix.
What Does A Disaster Recovery Situation Look Like?
Once a disaster situation occurs, you will be able to refer both to your business continuity plan and your disaster recovery plan. Resuming operations will normally lead to the continuity plan being executed first, although there may be a crossover between the two, and they should exist broadly in parallel. Both plans will outline the immediate steps to remedy whatever issue has occurred, and how to proceed from here.
A disaster recovery plan will often involve the services of an external IT service provider. They will help you to draft the plan, identify where potential issues might arise, and help you to mitigate them, as well as prepare for the worst. This may include backing up your physical or virtual data, as well as providing physical premises and hardware to temporarily accommodate your business.
Following the disaster recovery plan, your business will liaise with the service provider to determine what has been compromised, and provide an appropriate response. This usually consists of the service provider restoring files from one of several backups, which they will keep an update on your behalf. They may also provide more general support and advice, such as in the event of a security breach.
If the disaster has rendered your hardware inoperable, or otherwise prevented you from using your workspace, your disaster recovery plan may also include the use of a workplace recovery facility. These facilities are maintained and stocked to support large cohorts of employees in the event of a disaster and aim to provide all the amenities of a typical working environment.
These facilities will include capable workstations with fast and secure internet access and relevant software, as well as amenities such as air-con and break-out rooms. By working with the service provider, you’ll be able to ensure that the facility matches your requirements as closely as possible, with the software, files, and privileges you need to resume working as quickly as possible, and get close to your usual productivity.
Sota is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of professional IT services in Kent, cloud computing, cyber resilience, connectivity, and unified communications. Having worked with countless businesses over the years, they are experts in their field, ready to advise and offer tailored solutions for each and every company.
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