3 Disaster Recovery Tips for Small Business

By Paul Mah | Posted March 08, 2012

Are you currently in the midst of implementing a disaster recovery plan in your small or mid-sized business? I outline three tips to help get you going in the right direction.

Be Pragmatic

While it is tempting to write down enthusiastic objectives to recover from just about any disaster, I think small businesses need to be realistic about the increased costs that a smaller recovery window entails. Stipulating that a faulty server must be back in action within 48 hours for example, will likely require hardware replacement SLAs (Service Level Agreements) of 4 hours to be worked out with vendors; as a next-business-day arrangement won’t cut it if a crucial server were to go down on a Friday.

As you can imagine, this will likely cost much more than a "next-business-day" arrangement. In the same vein, requiring that all systems must be restored on the same day will probably necessitate the purchase of additional server hardware to be placed on cold standby.

With that in mind, I strongly advocate balancing your organization’s needs carefully against what is possible with the available budget. In short, be pragmatic.

Flexibility Stretches Your Resources

Rather than spend an excessive amount of time coming up with fancy ROI (Return On Investment) charts or lamenting about the lack of budget to acquire top-of-the-line tape backup systems, small business owners should be flexible and consider alternative ways of stretching their existing resources.


Configuring incremental backups can greatly reduce the amount of storage capacity required for data backups, while the judicious use of data compression can further reduce this -- albeit at the cost of a slightly longer backup process.

Another possible consideration is the use of cloud-based systems in your disaster recovery plans. For example, data that changes frequently can be encrypted and stored in the cloud, while cloud-based messaging infrastructure could be tapped into as temporary replacements for crashed local systems.

Availability is Not a Backup

Many small businesses and SOHOs tend to confuse the high-availability offered by redundant storage drives in a typical NAS or SAN array with data backups. While availability has a huge role to play in business continuity, it may be of little help in a disaster such as a fire or flood. A full recovery from these highly destructive disasters mandates the presence of independent data backups stored at unaffected locations.

Do you have any other tips on how to implement DR in your small business? Feel free to chip in with your suggestions below.

Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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