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Plan your business continuity and disaster recovery

Business continuity and disaster recovery should be at the forefront of every IT department as well as every executive management team. Disasters that interrupt your business or compromise your data could be anything from power failures, hacker attacks, IT system crashes, supply chain problems to natural or man-made disasters.

But according to a recent study by CompTIA, the largest independent ICT trade association, only 51% of all analysed companies reported having a BC/DR plan. Three years ago the numbers were even more alarming with only 41% saying they have plans how to respond to their worst-case-scenarios.

So overall there’s a visible and positive trend to backup and to plan how to react to the “big outage”. But 51% is still terribly low considering that a data interruption or data loss are more than debilitating for a company.

Often it is smaller companies that lack a comprehensive plan whilst medium-sized and large companies are generally better equipped to withstand a complete outage across operations. Larger companies tend to have recovery plans for individual departments and business units rather than for the whole company.

It is important that your company has procedures in place how to communicate, lead and continue work after a disruptive event, a so called business continuity plan. Business continuity plans are not “one size fits all”. They need to be individually developed for a company according to its size, location and services. They go hand in hand with the following THREE OPTIONS for data backup which will save your valuable data assets and make it easy to restore normal work within hours or days.

Option 1: Local Backup with Manual Offsite Tapes or Drives.

In this case you have to complete all backups of your data to a local repository based on disk. Next step is to replicate the disk to portable media like tapes or drives and to take these manually offsite to another safe location.

Plus: This option is a first step to a backup plan and can be implemented fairly quickly.

Minus: This option relies on local staff to consistently remove the most recent backup media from site. If you’re reliant on human beings, this generally increases your risk of data loss. Your staff might forget the backup and backup media is susceptible to theft or fire for example.

Option 2: Offsite Backup Repository

If you decide to go with an offsite backup repository, all backups need to be completed to a local repository based on disk, and after that securely replicated to a low cost cloud storage environment.

Plus: This option ensures all backed up data is stored offsite and can be easily accessed in the event of a localised or building disaster. It’s a type of service that is relatively cost-effective and it includes monitoring of backup jobs which means you create double protection for your data.

Minus: This option does not provide hot restoration of services.

Option 3: Environment Replication – Hotsite Backup

Option 3 is the crème de la crème of backup options. In this case all backups are completed to a local repository for the purposes of granular recovery. A protection group of servers which are considered critical to the business are replicated to a datacentre and are ready to turn on in the event of a disaster.

Plus: This option offers Recovery Time Objectives (RTO’s) and Restore Point Objectives in minutes. It is the deluxe version but still fairly low in terms of cost considering its benefits in the event of an outage.

Minus: This option is great for clients who are in existing datacentres, but more expensive for clients who are not, so choose wisely!

Regardless of the chosen backup option a rigorous monitoring process needs to be implemented to ensure that all backups are carried out as required and are not delayed or forgotten. On top of this 6 or 12 monthly test restores have to ensure that backups are functioning as expected.

Remember, your backups are only as good as the last test restore.

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