How a Disaster Recovery Plan Can Save Your Business - Page 2

By Vangie Beal
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More Small Business Disaster Recovery Tips

Tip #2. Keep Backups On and Off-Site

Regular data backups are another important part of your disaster recovery plan, but you need more than a single backup at the office.  Troia says that an onsite backup will help you during some disasters (like a failed hard drive), but when faced with a fire or employee theft it may be useless.  For SNC Squared the off-site data backup was critical to the company's successful recovery.

Troia recommends that you create data backups on a regular basis and invest in software to automate the process. A good program will automatically create a backup at a specific time each day, and you can set many programs to verify the data and send a text message alert when the system detects a problem.

Once the backup process in place, Troia says businesses need to create a backup of the data back up and then store it off site. There are different options to do this, but he says most small businesses do find cloud storage to be an easy and cost-effective way to secure data away from the office.

Tip #3. Determine and Test Your Business Vulnerabilities

Motazedi says businesses should determine what two or three things would make it difficult to run the business if they were suddenly gone.  Once you know your weak spots you can develop a plan­ to mitigate the risks where your business is most vulnerable.

It's also wise to plan ahead for potential disaster recovery failures. Motazedi recommends that you play devil's advocate and come up with all the scenarios that will cause your plan to fail. When you know the threat and understand the risks to your business should a failure happen, he says it's much easier to recover from it.

Remember that having a disaster recovery plan may be a futile exercise if you don't update the document and test the plan on a regular basis. Testing can range from making sure that employees know where fire extinguishers are to shutting down a server to validate your recovery plan.

Tip #4. Work with partners and vendors in advance

Long before a disaster strikes, consider working with your partners and vendors to discuss what the expectations are and know if vendors will provide emergency equipment—such as workstations or a server — or if you will have immediate access to a line of credit.

SNC Squared does this but, since the tornado, Motazedi has taken preparedness planning one step further. He's actually worked out contracts with some partners and clients that say each company can work from the other's offices for a small daily fee should something happen.

Even a home-based business or entrepreneur can scope out their town to determine what's available for emergency office space and know ahead of time who to contact and where to go if disaster strikes, says Goldberg.

Remember: Even Small Disasters Can Devastate a Small Business

If SNC Squared didn't have that little 10-page disaster recovery plan when the tornado hit, Motazedi   believes the company would not have succeeded.

"We lost fifty percent of our clients, and if we hadn't been able to get back up we wouldn't have gotten our clients back. Since they're doctors and need access to patient health and medical records, they probably would have been sued. We probably would have been sued." he said.

It's important to understand that it's not always a large natural disaster that you need to plan for. All the experts we spoke with for this article — including Motazedi who experienced a tornado — agree that it's the small things that most likely will happen to you: fire, a power outage, flooded offices  or a failed hard drive with no backup.

And it is the simple things that will force you to send employees home and hang your closed sign. The processes you outline in your disaster recovery plan will help you get up and running after any type of disaster, of any size and magnitude.

"The one thing I've always said is that if you're not prepared you're going to be surprised," said Motazedi. "And I'd much rather be prepared than surprised."

Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal has been covering business and Internet technology for more than a decade. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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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This article was originally published on October 16, 2012
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