Note: this article originally appeared on Windows IT Pro.
For a lot of organizations, backup and disaster recovery gets pushed to the curb in favor of a variety of day-to-day IT problems, upgrades, and maintenance concerns. Sure, it’s easy to think of backup and recovery as something secondary to regular operations. You may feel like you’re preparing for a data disaster that may not happen and therefore don’t see the importance, or you might see the importance but run into trouble getting the budget to implement a plan that fills the needs of your company or a company for which you provide managed services. While disasters might not be common in your area, they do happen and are worth considering. The biggest threats, however, are hardware failures and user error—two things that will happen to any organization at one time or another.
In any case, there are a lot of things to consider, and there’s a lot you should do to plan for data disaster and other types of issues. Along with that, there’s an awful lot you should not do. Let’s look at what you shouldn’t do if you’re hoping to keep an organization from feeling the sting of failures large or small.
1. Buy shoddy equipment
This can be tricky because you might not have ultimate purchasing power when it comes to IT equipment. If you or a client is working within a budget, you might find yourself considering refurbished or lower-priced IT equipment. This is a great way to make sure you’re more likely to experience failure in the future because you really do get what you pay for when it comes to hardware. Getting quality equipment might involve some pleading with managers or clients to get the budget to buy them, but you can assure them they’ll save more money in the long run by not having to replace shoddy equipment that fails and loses data. Also note that some manufacturers will lease equipment, meaning for a monthly payment, your organization can have the latest and greatest at a lower price than paying for it outright.
2. Never revise or update your DR plan
Do you even have a disaster recovery plan? Is it carefully documented? When is the last time you dusted it off? Not revising your backup and disaster recovery plan is like leaving the house with your pants off—sure it feels good, but you’re going to run into trouble before you get too far. Take a careful look at your DR plan, make sure it’s up to date with all your current equipment and that it’s ready to be used in any type of emergency. For a look at how to prepare one of these bad-boys, check out the ebook “How to Make Disaster Recovery Easy.”
3. Don’t test
If you don’t have an up-to-date plan, I can almost guarantee you’re not testing. What’s more is that even if your plan is up to date, you probably aren’t testing anyway. Yes, it’s tough to find the time and your bosses or clients certainly don’t want to show up on a Saturday to go through disaster recovery plans, but it’s essential to making sure your company or one your responsible for can recover from various types of failure, whether it’s a hard-drive failure in a domain controller, or a flooded server room. Take some time to help the folks in charge understand that you need to test a plan or it’s essentially useless.
4. Don’t share what you found
Right along with testing, you need to make sure any managers, other IT admins, and any relevant staff members have access to the plans you’ve created. Additionally, it’s wise to have one or two people in charge of making sure the DR plan is constantly up to date and that the latest copy is in the hands of any key staff members. The more you can communicate the better off your organization will be if you need to put your DR plan into action.
5. Fully Trust the Cloud
Be wary of using cloud-based production services exclusively because doing so means you’re entirely dependent on an Internet connection. Sure, you can have multiple Internet providers so you can be covered if one goes down, but you never know what can happen during a local issue, and you want the instant, onsite availability of local backups first and foremost. A wiser choice is to use the cloud for backups exclusively and keep production equipment in-house. Just remember that backups to the cloud should be in addition to local backups, not in lieu of them. Take local backups first then replicate them to the cloud or an off-site data center to add another layer of protection.
This is just a short list. When thinking about backup, data disaster, and recovery, it’s essential to look at all the factors involved. The only way to really know “how not to plan” is to test your plan and record what goes wrong because planning and implementing are two wildly different things. Quarterly tests of disaster recovery plans should be a big part of any fully solid business continuity plan.