Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know you should be backing up your computers and server. But here’s something you probably DON’T know that will come back and bite you: simply having a backup of your data is NOT ENOUGH to guarantee you could be back up and running fast in the event of a disaster.
Having a data backup merely means that you have a copy of your company’s data stored somewhere; it does NOT mean you have a way to instantly restore your network back to normal. For example, if your network crashed because of a hardware failure, your entire company is down, period. No e-mail, printing, accessing the database, customer records, and more. Until whatever caused the problem can be fixed (which might involve ordering replacement parts), your business is closed.
Your information is there, but without a server, you have nowhere to load that information, and no way to access it. On top of that, a backup only holds your data, not your operating system, settings, or software applications. So even if you can load the data, you can’t actually use it without re-loading all the software applications—no small feat. Even IF you have all the software disks and key codes (most people don’t), it could still take days — possibly weeks— to rebuild, and the costs can run into the thousands.
That’s Not The Half Of It
The three most common causes of server downtime are hardware failure, software corruption and human error. But nearly 20% of businesses suffer damaging downtime from fire, flood, theft, or other natural disasters, and 44% of them never recover—and that’s mostly because they didn’t have a disaster recovery plan in place. A disaster recovery plan covers more than just backup. It maps out how to get your business restored and running again in every possible scenario. For example, if another company in your office building has a fire, the police may quarantine your building preventing you from even entering your office. Or if a major storm knocks out power, Internet or the phone lines, you need a plan “B” for servicing customers, taking orders and keeping things rolling. Here are three critical components to a disaster recovery plan:
- Have One! As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” When it comes to disaster recovery, nothing could be more accurate. If something happens to your office, will your employees be able to work from home? Do you have an alternate plan for your phones? Where would you temporarily set up shop? How quickly could you get technology equipment you need to function like computers, scanners, or printers? How will you access the Internet? Make a point to document the answers to these questions.
- Onsite Server “Virtualization.” In a downtime situation, virtualization is basically a business owner’s lifeline to his business. Once only available to big businesses with deep pockets, this now affordable technology can literally get you back up and running just as you were before the disaster... in as little as 24 hours. If the disaster doesn’t take out your whole office, virtualization can have you back in business the same day. Here’s how it works. A second server makes exact copies of everything on your server—operating system, software applications and data—every 15-60 minutes.
This server replica, also known as an “image,” can take over if your main server fails or gets corrupted. No need to re-load software, reconfigure your network, or re-load your data. In as little as 30 minutes, everyone in your company can get back to work, just as they were before the downtime. Compare this to the days or WEEKS it could take without virtualization; the productivity and money savings is staggering. Side Note: If you are still using old tape backups, you NEED to throw them away and virtualize your server with an offsite backup!
- Offsite Image of Your Server. Fire, flood, theft, natural disasters, or even faulty office sprinkler systems can physically damage your office equipment, including your server and your backup system. Head this off by having an exact copy (an image) of your server’s operating system, settings, programs, and data sent daily to an offsite location. Also make sure this image can be quickly loaded on to a server and shipped to you. With this in your plan, a tornado could rip open your office and destroy everything, yet you could be back up and running within a few days.
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