Note: this article also appears on the Gillware Data Recovery blog.
Maybe you’re not sold on the need for a disaster recovery plan. Perhaps the perceived risk isn’t enough to really prompt you to take action. Despite how often data disasters happen—whether it’s user error, malware, or a natural disaster—some just don’t see the need or can’t seem to find the time. Just know that the benefits of having a disaster recovery plan are more than just readiness. Here are a few reasons you should consider making a disaster recovery plan that you may not have considered.
Asset and inventory management
The first part of a good backup and recovery plan is thorough documentation, which involves understanding equipment inventory. This is useful for identifying which pieces of equipment you have, which are extra but may come in handy, and which are completely superfluous. Any good IT admin knows which equipment he or she has and where to find it. That way if there is a problem, whether small or large, spare equipment is quickly accessible. Good asset management also helps prevent employee theft, which can certainly happen at any organization.
How can you successfully manage a network if you don’t know everything about it? Detailed documentation as part of a good backup and recovery plan helps you clearly understand the way a network is functioning, which allows you to remedy issues quickly. So if there’s a simple problem like a busted router or something awful like a server failure, you can handle it. RMM tools are great for this because they can help you document networked equipment automatically. Still, there’s a physical aspect that you shouldn’t ignore. Taking photos of equipment set ups—particularly in server rooms or closest—can be useful as well. Oh, and don’t forget the labels!
Part of your disaster plan involves making sure at least two people can do any one task. This keeps you covered in an emergency, but it doesn’t have to be a full on disaster for task redundancy to be useful. Have you ever had somebody leave on vacation, call in sick, or leave the company abruptly and on poor terms? This can cause huge problems if that person is the only one who can do a critical task. Not only that, but what about less critical tasks? As an example, suppose you need a person to perform a network diagnosis before you can fix something, but only that one person has the capability. If that person is too busy, it can create a bottle neck and you’re sitting around waiting. You could save time if only you could quickly do it yourself.
We mentioned that good documentation can result in better management, but it can also help you identify areas where you could be saving money, particularly if it’s time for a hardware upgrade. Why run three separate servers when you can run three virtual servers on one physical piece of equipment? Your eagle-eye view can help you see where the cost savings might be and where you might be able to go virtual or to the cloud.
Ability to test
How can you test a plan you don’t have? If you have a disaster recovery plan you can run through what would happen in various scenarios, which allows you to see your recovery in action. If you’re an IT provider, this also helps you establish trust with clients who can actually watch your test and see that you can deliver on any promises you’ve made.
There are loads of benefits to having a disaster recovery plan, but the biggest benefit will always be the level of disaster preparedness you can only get by taking the time to make develop a plan. Ultimately, a backup and disaster recovery plan is designed to keep business going after a small disaster or large. It’s really a matter of saving business from the cost of downtime, which is something every business can get behind.
Photo credit: Theilr via Flickr