Disaster recovery planning is something you can’t really appreciate until disaster actually strikes. And if you underestimate the importance of preparation, you may find you have some mighty big holes in your data protection strategy when disaster finally does hit. But by then, it may be too late. Look no further than the MyBizHomePage fiasco for further proof.
Once upon a time valued at $100 million, MyBizHomePage was a promising internet startup that offered a platform designed to help small businesses manage their financial data online. Internal turmoil prompted a rather dramatic twist of fate. The company suffered a massive data security breach, a targeted attack orchestrated by its former executives. Backups containing critical data were destroyed in the breach, creating monumental challenges on the recovery end. Despite attempts at a rebound, MyBizHomePage was left with no choice but to file bankruptcy and close its doors for good.
Be it a natural disaster or man-made mishap, it shouldn’t take a close call to realize that one catastrophe could turn your whole world upside down. Here are five proven tactics to help safeguard your data through rain, sleet, or snow.
1. Expect the Unexpected
Data protection is as much about protecting information from the unknown as it is shielding against anticipated threats. Even if the mix of encryption, antivirus software, and physical security does its job of keeping the bad guys out, it becomes less effective as the disaster landscape expands. You need to back up important data and have a reliable means of restoring it if stuff hits the fan. Disaster recovery should be the focal point of any data protection strategy. It’s the key to ensuring business continuity in the face of security threats, hardware failure, natural catastrophes, and human error.
2. Know What’s Important
You took the time to back it up, so of course you want to protect your data from harm. With that said, protecting every single file can become cost prohibitive when figuring the cost of data storage and storage management into the equation. The costs are why it pays to take a more selective approach to data protection. An example would be organizing your data assets by the mission-critical data you need to operate on a day-to-day basis—followed by the data you might be able to live without for a couple of days, and so forth. Through priority, you can streamline both the recovery and retention aspects of your data protection plan.
3. Be Realistic with Retention
Some of you may still be sitting on data you collected some 10, maybe even 15 years ago. Does it hold the same value it did way back then? Mandated regulations are a obviously a big factor, but the relevance of your data changes over time, and knowing how to manage its life cycle is crucial. As the process moves along, you’ll decide what gets backed up immediately and what requires longer-term storage, and you’ll determine where exactly to stash it all. Identifying the data that needs to be actively managed can help you spend wisely in the storage department as well as enable the best possible security measures.
4. Designate a Safe Haven
Where you store your data is just as important as what you decide to keep and how long you decide to keep it around. Having a secondary site to recover from and shift operations to is highly recommended, but if the offsite facility is situated a few miles down the road, it’s just as vulnerable as your primary data center should a hurricane or tornado land in the area. In order to maximize data protection, your backup site should be located beyond the reach of natural disasters that could affect your main facility, yet it should provide easy access to execute recovery operations.
5. Keep Testing!
The only thing more frustrating than enduring a disaster is a failed attempt at recovery. Testing is the final piece of the data protection puzzle. Through a combination of simulated attacks and recovery drills, you’ll make sure your data is truly protected and can be recovered after a ransomware infection, system failure, or natural disaster. Commit to extensively testing your DR plan at least twice a year to uncover any weaknesses or problems that may arise when it really needs to be executed. You’d rather find flaws during a test any way—because when disaster strikes, there is little to no room for error.