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enterprise disaster recovery plan

Creating the right disaster recovery plan for your business

by ​David Strom
While many large businesses have at least some form of a disaster recovery plan in place, many smaller operations either don't have the time to think about it, or don't anticipate the many ways that disaster can strike.

According to one survey1, less than a third of the respondents regularly test their disaster recovery (DR) plan. And 23% don’t even bother testing at all. But instead of just being doom and gloom, let’s instead outline some actionable items to craft a disaster recovery strategy that protects your data, your business processes, and your people — just in case something actually happens. 

While you may have data backups for some of your data, make sure that all of your critical data has a redundant backup. Take a step back and look for holes in your strategy.

Realize that this can happen to you, too

I myself am not immune to being better prepared. Many years ago, I had a small office on the second floor over a retail music store. I did my backups regularly (at that time, they were tape based — I had to rotate the tapes and everything). One day, while I was out running errands, there was an electrical fire in the store below. Upon my return, the fire trucks had surrounded my office, the firemen had broken down my door (to ensure that the fire hadn’t reached the second floor), and I was stuck standing outside watching them work, all the while thinking that my backup tapes weren’t going to do me much good with all of them sitting in a tall stack on my desk upstairs. Oops.

Consider what should be stored onsite – and offsite – on a regular basis

Many smaller businesses likely have a single server in their office holding most of their data. If this is you, think about how you can protect that server, and what would happen to your business if tomorrow you woke up and that server was gone.

Look at cloud servers as one element of your disaster recovery plan. Another story: years ago, I was too cheap to use my own mailing list server, so I found a friend who let me run my list on his server. That worked great, until one day his basement, and subsequently my server, flooded (not to mention the phone lines to his house were cut as a result of the storm).

In the days it took to restore service, I realized that while I had plenty of backups of my data, one key missing element were the names of the people on my mailing list. That was probably one of my most important pieces of data.

That list represented past and future customers and contacts. And if that server couldn’t be resurrected, my business was finished. Another oops. While you may have data backups for some of your data, make sure that all of your critical data has a redundant backup. Take a step back and look for holes in your strategy.

Identify and store your mission-critical data in several offsite locations

In a story I wrote several years ago for Baseline,2 one IT manager perhaps said it best: “Understand the key systems that will keep your business running, and what will make a huge difference in your business operations,” should they disappear. Part of this process should be to understand your critical workflows and what would happen if disaster strikes.

Can your people get to a place where they can have power and Internet connectivity if an entire region is taken out of commission? This is why some company disaster recovery strategies include agreements with providers in cities that are a few hours away, to spread their risk. Here is a great set of suggestions to help with your planning and how you should allocate your personnel resources.3

Natural disasters strike unpredictably, quickly, and without warning. And while you can’t prevent them, disaster recovery strategies can certainly keep your business prepared to navigate through them. Take steps now to mitigate the damage and you’ll get through these tough situations just fine. 

Ready to get serious about IT security? 

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David Strom
David Strom is one of the leading experts on network and Internet technologies and has written and spoken extensively on topics such as VOIP, convergence, email, cloud computing, network management, Internet applications, wireless and Web services for more than 25 years. His work has appeared in,,, Network World, Infoworld, PC Week, Computerworld, Small Business Computing, c|net and, eWeek, Baseline Magazine, PC World, and PC Magazine. 
1 Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Council. The State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness. Annual Report 2014.
2 Strom, David. Baseline. 2 September 2008
3 Baseline. 9 Steps to Prepare Your Business for a Pandemic. 30 April 2009