Natural disasters have always been a concern, but they certainly appear to be happening more frequently. NASA warns that increasing ocean temperatures may increase the frequency of extreme storms. This year in California alone, wildfire damages likely cost in excess of $10 billion. Businesses face real threats from natural disasters, but these threats are nothing a thorough plan can’t help mitigate. Here are three steps every business should take as they plan for natural disasters.
Understand What You’re Facing
Every location has its own unique disasters. For businesses in hurricane-prone areas, it’s important to consider what effects a storm could have on their structures, as well as the potential for flooding (i.e., first-floor servers might be a bad idea). Businesses in earthquake-prone areas should be sure their structures are built to survive an earthquake.
So, take a moment to list the natural disasters you might face in your area, whether that’s fires, floods, or what have you. And don’t forget to account for potential fringe cases. While Utah—home to StorageCraft’s headquarters—might not be known for tornadoes, that didn’t stop an F2 tornado from ravaging downtown Salt Lake City in 1999. Your takeaway should be to prepare for the worst, even if it seems unlikely. With a comprehensive plan you’ll have a greater tolerance for—and ability to recover from—disasters large and small.
Optimize Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans
An alarming number of companies don’t have a plan for getting back to business following a natural disaster. While a detailed guide on how to build a disaster recovery (DR) plan is more than we have space for, here’s a quick list of things you should include:
- Recovery time and recovery point objectives
These metrics—your RTO and RPO—help you understand how much tolerance you have for data loss and downtime. Without them, you can’t effectively execute a plan.
- Detailed recovery process
If a system goes down, what steps do you need to take to get it back up and running? What if it’s your entire network?
- Communication plan
How will you contact employees in an emergency? Once you know everyone is safe, what are their roles in recovery?
- Testing process
Between backups and various recovery solutions, you should regularly test your plan so you can be certain you’ll recover when the time comes.
- Ongoing plan updates
Your plan should evolve as your network does. Should you make changes or additions to your network, your DR plan should reflect them. If your DR plan becomes out of date your company will have a greater risk of data loss and downtime.
Look to the Cloud for Recovery
Disasters have the ability to wreck primary systems and their data backups in one fell swoop. When you’re planning for a large-scale disaster, you need to include two critical capabilities:
- Storing data backups offsite to eliminate data loss
- Implementing a fast way to recover systems in the cloud to reduce downtime
Consider adopting StorageCraft’s version of the 3-2-1 backup rule. Keep three copies of your data. Two at different locations (e.g. one near endpoints and another offsite or at least off-network), and the third copy with a cloud vendor like StorageCraft. This approach ensures that you can recover locally from a small disaster while also having the ability to spin up an entire network in the cloud if your office or primary data center is wiped out.
This post only covers the basics. Many businesses will also mirror crucial data across geographically disparate regions. That way, even if one of the cloud vendor’s data centers has issues, you still have copies of your data elsewhere. The right amount of protection and redundancy ultimately depends on your business’s size, overall risk, and budget. Whatever your situation, take the time to draw up a thorough disaster recovery plan and test it. That’s the only way to be sure no disaster—whether it’s a tornado, earthquake, or user error—can keep you down for long.
Wondering what a comprehensive DR plan should look like? Schedule a demo with one of our sales engineers for a glimpse at best practices used by companies worldwide.