Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Small Business

    Putting together a disaster recovery plan isn’t something that is reserved to the domain of large or enterprise businesses. While the endeavor can indeed be a complex undertaking for bigger organizations with thousands of employees, a small business or SOHO (some office, home office) can probably put together a working disaster recovery plan in relatively short order.

    With this in mind, I outline some of the most important areas and suggestions on disaster recovery below.

    Back up Work Data

    The most precious asset of a typical business these days would probably be its digitized data. As such, any disaster recovery plan necessitates that a copy of this data is regularly achieved at a location that is not only geographically separate, but also easily accessible.

    One method of fulfilling the two prerequisites specified above would be to rely on a cloud storage service such as SugarSync. Businesses are well advised to carefully consider the relative risks of storing unencrypted data in the cloud, which does carry inherent risks not found in backups that are stored offline. For now, you may want to check out my “Three Methods of Backing up Your Crucial Work Files in 2013” for more information on backing up your work data.

    Restoring Server Assets

    Having a backup copy of data on hand is good, but of little immediate use if replacement servers required to make use of them cannot be deployed within a reasonable timeframe. As it is, remember to make a full image of the operating system and supporting software on a regular basis using server backup software such as Acronis Backup & Recovery.

    It is for this reason that many businesses have opted to fully virtualize their infrastructure, which allows them to make copies of the entire virtual machines with little effort. If done properly, these software virtual machines can be copied onto a replacement server and reused with little configuration needed. Obviously, making use of cloud infrastructure and online services offers the same benefit; though it is worth noting that even Amazon EC2 is known to fail.

    Working from Home

    The earlier two points address the ability for small businesses to restore their work data and infrastructure in the wake of a disaster. Moving ahead, the next consideration is being able to resume work with the shortest amount of interruptions, or to continue working while waiting out inclement weather, for example.

    For this to work, employees need to be prepared to work from home, preferably armed with company laptops. This does also entail the availability of speedy broadband access, as well as some means to securely access the work files once they are recovered from data storage and redeployed on new servers.

    While the above areas are what I consider to be the most important aspects, it is important to remember that the finer details of how a small business can get up to speed will obviously differ from one business to the next. The above pointers should be a good start for just about every small business, however.

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