5 Backup and Disaster Recovery Lessons from Hurricane Season 2017

5 Backup and Disaster Recovery Lessons from Hurricane Season 2017

October 26

The Atlantic hurricane season has just over a month left, but the frequency of storms is winding down. From Franklin to Harvey, Maria, Ophelia, and more, 2017 has had ten Atlantic storms reach hurricane strength for the first time since 1893. We’ve seen an influx of hurricanes, heat waves, and other extreme weather, and it’s likely that we’ll see bigger, stronger storms in the future. It’s more important now than it has ever been to consider how these extreme weather events affect backup and disaster recovery plans for businesses of all sizes. As hurricane season comes to an end, here are the five big lessons.

Equipment Stored on the Ground is At Risk

If Hurricane Harvey taught us anything, it’s that hurricanes can cause substantial flooding—even in areas that aren’t prone to them. While the severity of flooding will depend on the location and the event, keeping equipment off the ground is always wise. Server racks, desktop computers, power generators, and other equipment will be rendered useless if floodwater reaches their circuits. For a greater chance of avoiding water-related issues, keep equipment on shelves or desks, and consider storing them on the building’s second floor if possible. If there’s no way to store servers and other gear off the ground (which can often be the case), it’s wise to at least include in your DR plan a way to move equipment somewhere safe if a large hurricane threatens your business.

Secondary Power is a Must

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria, 80 percent of Puerto Rico was still without power. It’s now five weeks after Maria, and most residents still don’t have electricity. This serves as a not-so-gentle reminder that hurricanes can ravage power grids and keep business doors closed. Although authorities often can restore power in a few days following a disaster, it can also take weeks—even longer—for power to be fully restored. Businesses can’t wait weeks to restart operations. To keep working, consider including options like diesel generators for secondary power in your plan so you’re not forced to wait for local power officials to get the lights back on.

Cloud Backups Aren’t Just Nice-to-Haves

In situations where a hurricane obliterates a whole business, local backups don’t matter—the equipment they’re stored on will be destroyed as well. Businesses depend on equipment, but it’s not nearly as important as the information stored on it. Cloud backups offer a way to keep data safe in geographically disparate regions so there’s no risk a hurricane will wipe out every copy. On top of that, many cloud solutions give businesses a way to keep doing business from the cloud using virtualized versions of backups. This lets them continue working, even when the situation is dire.

Proactive Action Isn’t Negotiable

Hurricanes typically take a few days to gain power and make landfall, but that’s not enough time to develop an effective plan that covers all the possible outcomes of a powerful storm. Creating a plan well ahead of time (as well as collecting hardware, generators, supplies, and so forth) is the best way to make sure your company is more disaster-resistant. The more proactive you can be, the more likely you are to save data and equipment and get back to work quickly.

Planning Requires Testing

Last, but most importantly, no plan should go untested. As you consider how you’ll handle disasters large and small, be sure to include regular tests to see how everything works. Document what went well and what didn’t, and continually refine your plan until you know you can meet all your recovery objectives, even in the face of the stronger storms to come.