Both modern information technology and IT consulting have been a boon to businesses, enabling them to process data quickly and efficiently. Computer networks, laptops and wireless devices are essentials in order to conduct business in the digital age. E-mail and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephone systems are major forms of communication. All kinds of data (including orders and payments) are transferred from one business to another via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Servers process massive amounts of information and store large quantities of critical data. However, sometimes disaster strikes in a nanosecond and all this technology stops working.
A computer network crash is more than just a temporary misfortune as critical data is essential to the continued operation and even the survival of the affected business. The negative impact of data loss or corruption from hardware failure, human error, malware, or hacking is huge. An article in Information Week states that computer downtime adversely impacts US businesses to the tune of $26.5 billion per annum. A Pepperdine University report says that companies that suffer a network outage lasting longer than ten days never completely recover financially, and roughly fifty percent of them will go under within five years. Therefore, a plan to backup and restore digital information is crucial.
Does Your Business Have a Recovery Plan in Place?
If you do, that’s obviously a good thing, but then you need to determine if your plan is adequate. Here are some recommended steps to create or enhance a disaster recovery plan.
- Examine your current plan (if you have one) and assess if the level of protection it provides is sufficient.
- Work out the length of time your business can afford to have its computer network be down.
- Determine how much data your business can afford to lose.
- Look at your current backup system and determine whether it can be improved.
- List all of your system’s critical components – servers, other hardware, and software applications.
- Document the processes necessary to bring your server(s) back online.
- Review your IT staff. Do they have the expertise to handle an unpredictable disaster? If you have a contract with an outside IT service, how fast can their personnel be at your offices?
- If your company has on-site servers, look at the control room environment. Is it secure, does it have a backup power supply and effective climate control?
The Importance of Testing
There are quite a few excuses you can come up with for not testing a recovery plan on a regular basis – insufficient funds in the budget, workflow interruptions, not enough time, etc., etc. However, if you don’t test your plan, how do you know if it’s going to work? Don’t wait until disaster strikes to discover that your plan contains flaws. So, test your recovery system and find our how well it works (or doesn’t work) as soon as possible.
Virtual or Physical Servers?
Is it any help to have a mix of physical and virtual servers (which is common these days). The answer is no – accidental deletion of information on virtual servers happens just as often as on the physical type. And, bear in mind that physical servers often run your company’s most critical applications, such as the ones processing payroll data.
Assistance is Available
If designing and testing your own disaster recovery plan seems a little daunting, or you don’t have the staff or expertise to effectively handle the project, please talk to us. We can relieve you from worrying about network crashes and loss of data, ensure that you suffer only the absolute minimum of downtime and have you back up and operational again as quickly as possible.