Not all businesses will look at disaster recovery the same way, but if you want your business to have the kind of continuity that will allow it to get through tough situations, doing your best to formally create a disaster recovery policy will put you in the position to weather any storm you encounter.
Automation Concepts & Technologies Blog
The question this article will present is simple: Does your business have a dedicated data backup and disaster recovery system? A comprehensive backup and disaster recovery platform (BDR) can turn out to be one of the most critical parts of managing a business’ IT infrastructure, and if you don’t have one, you should absolutely get one.
Situations happen all the time to businesses that can really put a lot of stress on their ability to sustain operations. These situations don’t often remediate themselves. Simply put, every business needs a business continuity plan; and one-in-five don’t have one. This month, we thought we would break down a successful plan into its components to try to give businesses that may not have a plan, the basics needed to establish one.
If you have been running a business for any length of time, you definitely don’t need to be told how important risk management is. One problem you see from business owners today is that while they understand just how many problems there are--and which ones they need to find solutions for first--they want to grow their company fast, and as a result, they overlook potential problems and end up hurting their business as a result.
Bad things happen. If your business fails to plan for the worst, when something terrible does happen, you could be looking at disaster. If you have a comprehensive continuity plan in place, however, you have a fighting chance. Let’s discuss some of the elements you absolutely need to address when making your business’ continuity plan.
Every business needs a continuity plan (BCP) so that if their business is forced to deal with problems that arise for any reason, that they have a working plan to get the business back up and operating as intended quickly. It’s one thing to have it all written down on paper, outlining how things are supposed to go, and quite another thing to have a working strategy when faced with operational interruptions. Today, we’ll go through some of the basics of business continuity to help you understand all that goes into a successful plan.
Data has effectively become another currency - and just like any other currency, some is much more valuable than others. This is especially the case where your business’ data is concerned, and why it is so crucial that you keep it safe.
Business continuity is one subject that not a lot of people know a lot about. This is largely because there isn’t a curriculum that presents a comprehensive outline on how to deal with disaster. This month, we’re going to share some continuity strategies that work, regardless of the situation, to get your business coordinated and back up and running fast following an unfortunate situation.
Data backup tends to carry with it the association that your business could end at any moment, and while this is an important reason to implement data backup, there are countless others to consider as well. You might find that they are just as important to your organization as saving it from a devastating data loss disaster.
If you don’t consider the worst-case scenario when preparing your business’ disaster recovery strategy, you’ll inevitably suffer from it when it does happen. Taking into account all of these nuances is one of the main ways your organization can prepare for such an occasion. All of these instances need to be considered when putting together your organization’s business continuity plan. We’ll discuss some of the major parts of it, and why they are crucial.
It should come as no surprise that the practice of business continuity planning is one that every business needs to undergo. This planning serves as essentially your only insurance against some form of data disaster or another. Consider your own business for a moment--could it survive a fire, a critical failure in part of your infrastructure, or theft? With a business continuity plan, there’s a chance it just might.
As a business owner, you expect to stay in control of what your business does. Unfortunately, there are certain variables in running a business that simply can’t be controlled, like the weather. Therefore, you need to take special care to ensure that these uncontrollable instances don’t become a threat to your business’ prolonged existence. To this end, we recommend a business continuity plan.
While many may consider an audit of any kind to be a pain in the neck or worse, they can actually be an effective way to ensure that businesses are following best practices and remaining compliant. After all, nobody wants to be the company that failed an audit. Despite this, many companies aren’t up to standard where their IT is concerned, and it has an impact.
As a business owner, you’ve surely thought about what the future holds for your organization. However, one of the things that you need to think about that’s not often considered is the event of a data disaster. How can your business bounce back from such a catastrophic event? One of the first steps is understanding your data backup and disaster recovery process, as well as how you can improve your current setup.
Most organizations that don’t take advantage of a cloud-based BDR system still utilize tape backup. This is the act of storing data on magnetic tape--certainly better than nothing, but not without its disadvantages. We’ll also discuss some of the differences between the two as we take a look at what you should (and shouldn’t) ask of your data recovery solution.
DO Take Multiple Backups
It’s a common practice to take multiple backups, but the unfortunate truth of this is that it’s practically impossible to do so with tape. Or, rather, it’s difficult to get more than one backup out of the workday due to how resource-intensive and time-consuming they are. BDR allows you to take backups as often as every fifteen minutes so that your data backups will be as up-to-date as possible.
DON’T Store Your Backups in the Same Location
You could have all of the backups in the world, but if you store them in the same place, you could be left with nothing in the event of a disaster. It’s a best practice to store all of your backups in three locations at all times: in-house (in case your disaster isn’t centralized or too threatening), a secure off-site data center from which your data can be shipped overnight, and in the cloud where it can be accessed in a pinch.
DO Aim for a Quick Recovery Time Objective
It’s important that your business not remain inactive for long following a disaster. This results in crippling downtime that can create problems for your business. Most notably, you’ll be paying employees for not being able to work, and you’ll have to purchase new hardware. These expenses at the same time aren’t ideal, so it’s best to get back in business ASAP.
DON’T Wait Longer Than Necessary
The more time you spend recovering your data, the more time that’s being spent not being productive. This type of downtime can cost your business in the long run, and you may not be able to recover from such a blow. BDR can allow for practically instantaneous data recovery. Since your backups are stored in the cloud, they can be deployed to any device--including the BDR component itself--in a moment’s notice. This gives you time to find an adequate replacement for the hardware that has failed.
DO Shoot for a Maximum Recovery Point Objective
It’s a best practice to recover as much data as possible, so set your sights high and aim to lose as little as possible. This is called the recovery point objective. Having a set goal of how much data you will need to backup (and ultimately recover) in order to get your business back working productively is crucial to the continuity of your business.
DON’T Accept Data Loss
No amount of data loss is acceptable. This is a standard that you should strive for. BDR does this through taking backups every fifteen minutes so that you lose minimal data when a disaster occurs. In the case of tape backup, you could lose as much as up to 24 hours' worth of data, which is something that no organization wants to deal with.
If you’ve had enough of unacceptable data backup and disaster recovery practices, reach out to Automation Concepts & Technologies at (508) 622-5100.
Sometimes Mother Nature simply isn’t on your side, or you’re unfortunate enough to experience a troublesome disaster that threatens to knock your business off its feet. While various parts of the world are known for experiencing deadly natural disasters, other regions might not be as prone to them, giving business owners the wrong idea. It’s not a question of whether you’ll be hit with a crippling disaster, but when.
We understand that not every organization will be prone to tsunamis or earthquakes, but there are plenty of other disasters that could derail your business’ operations indefinitely. Here are just a few of them, and what your business can do to prevent them from being the last disaster it suffers from.
Any organization that works with machines running off of electricity will be subjected to the risk of an in-house fire. This could happen for a number of reasons, like overloading a power strip or an unattended candle. A fire can spread quickly, wiping out any physical infrastructure that your business relies on--including your office.
Most businesses these days rely on their technology to a certain extent, which puts them at the mercy of electrical storms. Something as sudden as a power surge could fry any unprotected hardware in your office. Just like that, you’ll have a bunch of useless workstations that need either heavy repairs, or to be replaced entirely. That’s not even mentioning all of the downtime that this causes, or other parts of your infrastructure also being damaged by the storm, like your furnace, air conditioning, etc. In this case, one unfortunate event snowballs and escalates into a big problem that can put your business on the line.
When businesses talk about natural disasters, they often forget one that could affect all businesses--hardware failure. Technology doesn’t last forever, and in the case of a mission-critical server or workstation failing, it could mean data loss for your organization. Furthermore, it would be very costly to replace technology that has failed, and that’s not even mentioning compatibility issues that could result of such an overhaul.
The Solution: Business Continuity and BDR
All of these situations result in a similar outcome: the inability to work following a nasty disaster. To resolve these issues, businesses have implemented business continuity solutions that focus on Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR). With a cloud-based BDR, you can know with certainty that your business’s important data is backed up and stored virtually in the cloud, multiple times a day, in a space that’s both secure and easy to access. BDR allows for backups as often as every fifteen minutes (or more frequently), and restoration directly to the BDR device should the need arise. You can trust us when we say that it’s the best defense against unforeseen events that put your business in harm’s way.
To learn more about BDR and business continuity, reach out to us at (508) 622-5100.
Every business owner needs to have a plan in place to backup their company’s data. Ignoring this basic task can lead to some pretty grim consequences, like a data-loss causing disaster. Fortunately, when it comes to backing up your data, you’ve got options.
Data might be the single most important asset of any business, but you would be shocked to hear about how many organizations don’t consider data loss to be a prominent threat. The fact remains that it doesn’t take an immense disaster to wipe out an entire infrastructure, and that you should expect the worst to happen regardless of how unlikely it is to do so.
Data backup and disaster recovery are both important elements of preserving your business in the long run. Data backup makes copies of your organization’s data infrastructure and, depending on the solution, backs them up to several possible locations. On the other hand, disaster recovery focuses on restoring your data following a crippling disaster. Combined, they make up what’s called a Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution, which is capable of taking regular backups throughout the workday and rapidly restoring data in the face of disaster. Here are three types of disasters that a good BDR solution can protect your business’s data from.
It doesn’t matter where your office is located--the truth is that you’re bound to encounter a natural disaster in at least some capacity. Organizations on the coast might experience flooding or rain storms that damage their physical infrastructure. Locations prone to tornadoes or earthquakes could see their operations plummet (or soar--literally) in the face of nature’s awesome destructive power. Power outages and fires are two of the most common natural disasters, and they’re so dangerous because they can happen to any business. BDR can, at the very least, safeguard your data until the disaster has passed.
A notorious cause of data loss is an unexpected hardware failure. This can happen if you ignore the telltale signs of hardware degradation for too long, or if you’re using an old or outdated workstation or server. Thankfully, hardware failure is easy enough to avoid… that is, assuming you know what to look for. An outsourced IT company like Automation Concepts & Technologies can remotely monitor your technology solutions to ensure that any hardware failure symptoms are quickly (and quietly) addressed. The idea is to keep an eye out for problems that hint toward an imminent failure, and to take action before it happens to smooth over the process of replacing the failed piece of hardware.
Arguably one of the most common causes of data loss is user error. This occurs when a user makes a mistake that leads to either compromised data or the destruction of important information. Believe it or not, this happens more often than you’d think, particularly with employees who have access to information that they shouldn’t have access to. You can mitigate this issue by cutting employee permissions to data they have no business seeing, like human resources information or accounting files.
If you want to protect your organization’s digital assets in the most convenient way possible, consider implementing a BDR solution from Automation Concepts & Technologies. Our BDR can back up your data as often as every fifteen minutes and restore it in a matter of moments. BDR even allows you to restore data directly to the BDR device following a disaster, which minimizes downtime and lets you get back in action as soon as possible following a major data loss incident.
Replacing your aging or broken-down hardware is a part of doing business, and one that few business owners want to think about before it must be done. Hardware is expensive and tricky to replace without experiencing at least some downtime. That’s not to mention arguably one of the most important questions you have to ask yourself: What do you do with your old technology that’s filled with sensitive data?
Nobody likes talking about impending disasters or expenditures, but the failure of your mission-critical technology is something that you need to keep in mind, especially when planning your IT budget and expenses for the next few years. What happens with your old technology is of equal importance.
Plan for Your Technology’s Inevitable Replacement
When it comes to your mission-critical technology, having a plan can go a long way. You don’t want to be caught unaware, as a hardware failure can strike at any given moment. It helps to be prepared for untimely technology troubles by having an IT roadmap; a plan which details your technology expenditures over the next five or ten years. You should account for regular technology tune-ups and replacements, as well as emergency maintenance that’s impossible to predict.
Wipe All Hard Drives and Devices
It takes a lot more than a traditional factory reset to ensure that all of your business’s data has been removed from a hard drive. Before throwing your old PC out, make sure that this data concern has been addressed. Only a trained technology professional can provide the thorough scrubbing that a used hard drive needs before it’s thrown out. Automation Concepts & Technologies can give you a hand with this delicate task.
Properly Dispose of Your Devices
Once you’re confident that your data has been removed from your hardware, it’s time to get rid of it. This is easier said than done, though. The world has a serious e-waste problem, especially in some developing countries. Hardware components contain precious metals that, in great quantities, can cause damage to the environment. Furthermore, developing countries that receive the bulk of this e-waste will use dangerous methods of isolating these materials, which further damage the atmosphere. It’s recommended that you contact Automation Concepts & Technologies to properly and safely get rid of your e-waste for you.
Of course, if you’re just routinely upgrading your workstations, and there’s nothing really wrong with your old hardware, you might consider donating your outdated technology to local charities or nonprofits. Doing so gives your reputation a boost within your community, and can open the door to potential clientele. You can even keep it hanging around your office for use in the event that a workstation becomes unusable.
Does this process sound like too big of a pain? Whatever you do, don’t just throw out your old and ailing technology. Instead, contact Automation Concepts & Technologies. We can work with your business to build an IT roadmap to plan out future technology acquisitions, as well as help you wipe your old technology and dispose of it in an environmentally-friendly manner.
It doesn’t take much to derail a business. Even the slightest disruption in power can lead to an unexpected power-down, and something as simple as a severe rainstorm could lead to floods that wash away your data. The point stands that you have everything to lose, and without data backup and disaster recovery, your business practices could be in danger.
Why You Need Backup and Disaster Recovery
Every organization should have a sound plan to recover any data that’s lost due to unexpected disasters. It’s been proven that organizations that fail to recover lost data within 7 days of the incident, typically go out of business within one year. There are many reasons why data backup and disaster recovery solutions need to be implemented. Here are just a few of the threats that could uproot your business and disrupt operations.
- Natural disasters: Floods, fires, electric storms, tornadoes, hailstorms, and so on, all have the potential to not only destroy your physical infrastructure, but also your business’s data. Therefore, if you’re in a region that’s prone to extreme weather conditions, you need to consider backup and disaster recovery.
- Cyber attacks: Data breaches are well-known culprits of data loss. It’s not easy to predict what a virus or malware will do, but most often, they’re designed to steal your data, delete it, or lock it away until a ransom is paid. In all of these cases, it’s best to have your data backed up so it can be safely restored.
- User error: The biggest threats often come from those who are supposed to have access to your data, not just those who don’t. If an end-user accidentally deletes a file, moves it somewhere it doesn’t belong, or hands over credentials to a hacker on accident, your data is put at risk.
- Hardware failure: The inevitable part of working with technology is the fact that it will eventually fail and be rendered obsolete. This can happen when you least expect it, and the costly downtime can be a major setback for your business - not to mention the data that could be lost if a server were to go down.
What You Should Look For
Not all backup and disaster recovery services will be the same, nor should they be. You need a solution that’s customized to meet the specific needs of your business. Here are some of the best features to look for in a BDR solution, and why they’re critical for the continued functionality of your business.
- Cloud and off-site backup: You don’t want to store your data backups on in-house tapes. Rather, you want them secure in an off-site location, like the cloud or a data center. This way, you can know that your data is stored in a compliant location that can’t be damaged by natural disasters.
- Quick recovery time: You want to be able to rapidly deploy your business’s data to your infrastructure in order to minimize downtime. Tape backup can make this part of the recovery process long-winded and wasteful, but BDR can automatically deploy your data through the cloud, making recovery practically instantaneous.
- Comprehensive backup: Furthermore, you want to make sure that your data is as recent as possible. Tape backup is inefficient for this purpose, while BDR can take backups of your data as often as every fifteen minutes - maybe even more often.
For more information about BDR and business continuity, contact Automation Concepts & Technologies at (508) 622-5100.
It’s every business owner’s worst nightmare: one mistake, and all of their data is wiped out. This very situation happened recently to a hosting provider, and his story serves as a cautionary tale in regard to data storage best practices.