5 ways to ensure your disaster recovery plan is fail proof

A disaster recovery (DR) plan is essential for any organization that depends on technology to process and store data. Without one, you risk losing everything you’ve worked hard to achieve in the event of an IT disaster.

But it’s not good enough to have a disaster recovery plan — you need to make sure the plan is fail-proof. According to a recent FEMA report, between 40-60 percent of businesses remain closed following a disaster. Here are five things to consider so you don’t end up part of the statistic:

1. Test your DR plan

Many businesses invest in the development of a disaster recovery plan, only to bypass the crucial testing phase. If you do this, you have no way of knowing how effective your strategy will be in a disaster — you can only hope it’s enough.

Are you willing to risk the future of your business because you didn’t complete the DR project? If not, make sure you prioritize testing your DR plan to ensure it does as intended.

It’s especially important to do this before hurricane season begins, as they present one of the most significant risks to technology through floods, fire, and destruction of property.

An appropriate test will simulate an event that leads to a critical IT incident, enabling you to implement your DR plan and evaluate its performance. Pay close attention to the way your systems respond and any downtime. If your DR processes didn’t perform as intended, revise them, and test again.

However, you should also remember testing isn’t a one-time event. Even if the test goes well, repeat the simulation at regular intervals throughout the year to ensure you can respond to any critical situation as it arises.

2. Prepare your staff

Another mistake many organizations make is that they fail to communicate their disaster recovery plan to their employees. Your DR project should include a stakeholder analysis phase, ensuring the correct people are consulted and informed throughout all stages of the process.

Each employee should understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a disaster and should have all the necessary documentation and training required to fulfill these roles.

It’s important to note this doesn’t just apply to the employees directly involved in DR. For example, if your premises shut down during a hurricane, all employees would need to adapt to how they work to ensure continuity. Provide training for all your existing staff, and make this a priority for new employees as they join your company.

3. Ensure backups are secure

Where do your backups take place? Where are they stored? Ideally, your backup site should be at least 100 miles away from your primary location. Otherwise, your backup could be impacted by the same disaster as your primary site, leaving you with no data to restore.

Many organizations now choose to perform and store their backups in the cloud, ensuring a secure, off-site location far away from their usual business operations. Others decide to store multiple backups, including physical copies stored on external drives.

Whatever you decide is right for your business, it’s vital to safeguard your backup from the disasters your primary business location may encounter.

It’s also a good idea to ensure there are secondary feeds for power and utilities to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible following a hurricane.

4. Use Office 365

According to a recent report, there are almost 600,000 companies using Office 365 in the US. Cloud-based solutions make the DR process easier to manage. These unified communications platforms, like Office 365, ensure staff can access their emails from anywhere — as long as they have an Internet connection.

Not only that, but your employees will not be dependent upon your own IT infrastructure to communicate with each other. In the event a disaster did wipe out your systems altogether, it’s likely your employees could keep many aspects of the business ticking over provided they can communicate with each other.

5. Make sure all contact information is up to date

Finally, it’s essential to keep the most critical information up to date: the contact details. In case of a business emergency, your employees need to get hold of the right people, but they may not have access to everything they would regularly use to do this. Again, this is where platforms like Office 365 can help. Ensure all details are stored centrally and that your employees know how to access them. Reach out today and see what Entech can do for you.