Ultimate Guide to Disaster Recovery

Ultimate Guide to Disaster Recovery

December 3rd, 2019 | Posted in Business & Economy, Planning Futuring Strategy

Damage by hurricane Harvey taken just days after the storm. Credit Ken Hartlein, iStock Photo

Your Ultimate Guide to Disaster Recovery

From 2016-2018 the United States experienced an average of 15 disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters) that cost $1 Billion or more each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This compares to an average of just 6.2 such events in the years 1980-2018.

No business is safe from a disaster. Few people would argue that point – any person can have an unexpected problem, so it makes sense that any business could as well. But individuals can be flexible. If a natural disaster strikes, you might be able to simply leave, at least with enough advance warning. Businesses don’t always have that luxury.

In this article, we’ll look briefly at disaster recovery – what it is and how to get your business back up and running quickly after any disaster.

What is Disaster Recovery?

In general, disaster recovery is the process of, well, recovering from a disaster. This could mean cleaning up after a hurricane, repairing flood damage, replacing lost inventory from vandalism, all of the negative impacts that both natural and man-made disasters can bring to a business. In the general sense, disaster recovery means the same thing for businesses as it does for individuals. But more specifically, “disaster recovery” refers to the planning which businesses do to handle disasters. A well-prepared Disaster Recovery (DR) plan contains clear procedures designed to keep a business running as smoothly as possible. If keeping the business running proves to be impossible, DR aims to restore services as soon as possible.

Recover Faster by Mitigating Risk

Disaster can be natural: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires all fall into this category. They can also come from human sources like cyberattacks. Specific responses to each disaster will vary, but every DR plan begins by assessing the risks. Those risks can be quite broad, but also very basic. What is the risk to the physical facilities of the business? Are they located in a flood plain, or in an area prone to wildfires? Is the company dealing with sensitive political or financial information that would make it an appealing choice for a cyberattack?

After assessing the risks, businesses can begin to plan on how to address them. Formulate specific plans for different scenarios. Here’s a great example of a plan focused on dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane. Other plans may deal with an attack on the IT infrastructure: check here for some more advice.

At the end of the day, every business needs to know what disasters it might face. The old adage holds true: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Knowing the risk and taking steps to mitigate it well ahead of time can dramatically reduce the damage done, and the overall recovery time.

Credit Mike Mareen, iStock with photo elements from NASA

Disaster Recovery Specifics

  • DR plans fall into the general category of business continuity planning, which aim to keep a business operating as normal in every circumstance.
  • One important aspect of DR involves physical infrastructure, particularly for DR plans which involve natural disasters. Are there backup electricity sources for your headquarters? What about logistics? Is there adequate fuel to keep a company’s fleet moving? There are countless questions to be answered, but fortunately there are also numerous companies equipped to help your business handle even disastrous circumstances. Here’s an example. Your DR plan will need to match potential problems with available solutions.
  • For IT-related disasters, there are two vital terms to remember:
    • Recovery Point Objective – The maximum length of time your company can afford to lose from its last back-up. If vital information changes every six hours, your company needs to backup that often; if a disaster strikes, you’ll need to go back a maximum of six hours in order to recover everything and resume operations.
    • Recovery Time Objective – Related to the previous point, the RTO is the actual amount of time a business can afford to be off-line or inactive. The RTO becomes the gold-standard goal for your recovery; if your business can’t afford to be down for any longer than three hours, then three hours becomes your RTO – your goal for any disaster recovery.

    Any DR plan relies on careful research and planning to reduce the time it takes to get your business back up and running after a disaster. Know the risks, make a plan, and you can at least lessen, if not avoid, having your business crippled by a natural disaster.

    by Contributing Writer Leona Harrison

    About Contributing Writer

    1 Comment

    1. Jessica H   |   Dec 15, 2019

      It is not something we often want to think about, but it is important to be as prepared as possible in times of disaster and especially “after disaster”. Our business takes care of many commercial ac systems that are run by generators and here in the hurricane state, it’s important that certainly places such as hospitals and nursing homes stay climate controlled even when the community is without power.