Disaster recovery planning is sort of like flossing.
One is a simple task that doesn’t take much time, and if you do it correctly, it’s an ongoing process. However, if you don’t do it, you risk losing your teeth.
The other task could save your business, yet thousands of small business owners neglect to do it and risk losing everything.
Isn’t it time to make a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan for your business data?
Over the past three years, Joe Hillis has helped dozens of small businesses and communities recover from more than 17 natural disasters. As operations director for the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), he’s seen first-hand what tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires can do. The ITDRC provides disaster recovery services at no cost, as a public service of the technology community.
In Joe’s experience, businesses survive disasters—even though their buildings were flattened, flooded out, or burned to the ground—because their business data was successfully recovered.
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This year, from April to June, the ITDRC took its business survival message to 12 different states in a free road show called “Technology Continuity 101.”
With technology partners StorageCraft®, Phire Networks and LifeSize, the ITDRC visited small business owners, nonprofit, and emergency response teams in 26 high-risk cities along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts and in the “tornado alley” of the central U.S. According to Joe,
Our message was “identify and protect the data that’s critical to your organization.” We also showed them how to select the proper backup methodology, how to develop sound disaster and business continuity plans, and what to expect after a disaster.
Here’s what the ITDRC recommends for a BDR plan:
- Incorporate both on-site and off-site backup.
- Ensure that you can quickly recover files, folders and systems.
- Address not only the common disasters, but also the more extreme disasters.
- Include at least one level of redundancy.
Backing up only files and folders is a data-only philosophy. What about all of the critical systems that your organization uses? These need to be backed up and recoverable as well.
Image-based backup methods (such as StorageCraft ShadowProtect®) that capture an entire volume for local and off-site storage and offer complete recoverability are ideal. But for the solution to be effective, you need to be able to recover all of the backed-up data and services. As Joe says,
Using a disaster recovery solution that has been tested and proven to be fast, flexible and reliable should be the goal of any organization. ShadowProtect is phenomenal software. It does exactly what it’s advertised to do.
Since 2009, Joe and the ITDRC have responded to disasters ranging from tornados and hurricanes to wildfires and floods. The ITDRC brings an all-volunteer team of IT professionals to set up a technology infrastructure for disaster recovery. This usually includes a server and several workstations, and emergency phone lines.
In 2011, we responded to seven disasters the whole year. So far, in 2012, we’ve already responded to seven and the storm season is just beginning, Lots of small businesses are struggling after a disaster. That’s why we wanted to get out in front of storm season and help them be prepared with the road show.
While federal disaster recovery assistance is readily available to states and municipalities, it’s basically limited to SBA-guaranteed loans for small businesses and non-profit organizations:
It can take six or seven months following a disaster declaration to process a loan from the SBA. Most small businesses, if they miss two paychecks, they’ve got to close their doors. Federal aid isn’t going to get you back in business as quickly as you think.
Lately, FEMA has taken an “all disasters are local” approach, providing only logistical support to the local responders. Since large enterprises usually have recovery procedures in place, that leaves small businesses to fend for themselves.
When the ITDRC team arrives on the scene, their first priority is helping the local emergency services teams.
We first go to the police chief and fire chief or the mayor and ask what we can do for them. Then we go to the disaster response organizations and offer them technology. We give priority aid to organizations that have the most impact on the community’s recovery.
So Joe and his technology partners at ITDRC are preaching the backup gospel to SMBs:
A backup is one of the best things any business can do. Your backup needs to be checked and verified that it’s restorable. Also, you should have an off-site backup of some sort—a portable hard drive, a cloud storage provider—the main thing is get a copy of your backup off site somewhere. Even if your building isn’t impacted by the disaster, you could be without electricity or phone lines or roads that prevent you from getting to your data. If you have it off site, you can access and use your data.
According to Joe, small businesses are the hardest hit by disaster, but they’re also the least likely to have a BDR plan.
People are so excited to have a business open, they’re living the dream, but they’ve not taken the time to go through the planning process. One of the most important things anybody can do is decide what they’re going to need in the event of a disaster. Make a plan, even if it’s only on paper and pencil.
We all have gold-plated intentions. We intend to back up our data. If everyone had the StorageCraft product, they could just set it and forget it.
When you’re working with such a variety of IT environments, you need to be flexible.
And as a non-profit organization that offers free support and technical infrastructure for all types of IT systems, the ITDRC strives to be product and vendor agnostic—with one exception:
StorageCraft technology is really just revolutionary. I’ve been in IT for over 20 years and I don’t care how you back up your data. But if you really want to do it quickly and recover it quickly, and you want something that works, you really have to look at StorageCraft.
And Joe doesn’t stop there.
Clearly, StorageCraft is the de facto standard for data backup and disaster recovery in the SMB space.
The ITDRC finds StorageCraft ShadowProtect IT Edition especially useful at disaster sites.
It’s very flexible. It comes on a USB key so we can plug that into effectively any workstation.
According to Joe, the imaging technology also comes in handy for the disaster response team.
We have a number of computers we deploy in disasters. StorageCraft allows us to quickly reimage those machines to an image prior to the disaster.
In the field, sometimes we only get one shot at capturing data from damaged equipment. That’s where StorageCraft is very valuable.
The ITDRC also uses StorageCraft technology to safely store the donation and volunteer assistance information they collect during a disaster, until the situation allows them to turn the data over to the local long-term recovery organization.
And with StorageCraft software, it takes all of five minutes, if even that, for someone to verify that the data backup is good.
Information Technology Disaster Resource Center
The Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, established in 2009 to help communities and small businesses recover their IT systems from disaster.
Based in Ft. Worth, Texas, the ITDRC deploys teams of IT experts from all over the United States to provide business continuity and disaster recovery services. Their mobile operations center is a 39-foot command bus and a
48-foot semi trailer filled with wireless, satellite, and phone systems, generators, servers, printers, cables, routers, laptops, and workstations.
IT services and equipment are provided at no cost as a public service of the technology community through a nationwide team of volunteer IT professionals and corporate sponsors. In addition to disaster response, the ITDRC provides free consultations and seminars on disaster preparedness.
The ITDRC has responded to disaster sites in Center Point, AL; Hackleburg, AL; Henryville, IN; Salyersville, KY; Branson, MO; Joplin, MO; Greenville, NC; Chickasha, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Dallas, TX; and more.
“We’re always in need of sponsors, donors, and volunteers to help us accomplish our mission, especially from the business and technology communities,” Joe says.
Visit www.itdrc.org for more information on disaster preparedness resources.
(See awesome disaster photos on their Facebook page.)
Image source: FlyingSinger