Backup, Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity 

Be Positive Your Data Is There When You Need It

It only takes one security breach, unexpected disaster, or an accidental “Delete” at the wrong time to make you REALLY regret not having sufficient processes in place to store, recover and utilize your data.

First, let’s get clarity on the differences between backup, disaster recovery and business continuity.

How Jimmy's Delivers IT Services

 

If you were going to do this yourself, you would need many different people with very different talents and skills to:

  1. Manage your infrastructure.

  2. Strategize, plan and budget for the future. 

  3. Resolve issues and take care of routine tasks.

  4. Enhance the way your business uses technology.

Our services are structured so clients have all the resources they need for each discipline within the framework. Teams meet weekly to review client status and progress, and they own client success. The result is fast response when you need help right now and continuous improvement of the IT function in your business.

What You Need to Know About Data Backup

In many businesses, managers assume their data is getting backed up and that if they get a virus, if their server crashes, or if someone accidentally deletes a file, their IT guy will go into the backup and restore the data, and you’ll be good-to-go in a matter of minutes. 

That's not the case for many businesses.

The fact is, data might not be getting backed up in the first place. And even if measures are in place for automated backups, there is no guarantee that it can be easily, efficiently, and accurately recovered, unless it’s properly installed, and tested on a regular basis.

Your Backup Method Matters

Tossing a backup drive onto a desktops is NOT the way to store data. Using tape drives or an external hard drive on your server isn’t the way to go either.

An effective backup system shouldn’t just stand alone.

It should be considered as part of your overall business continuity and security strategy which is centralized, automated, and not dependent upon a human touching it to work.

How to Choose a Backup Solution

Whatever option you choose, you need to not only consider capacity requirements but also how you will restore the data when you need it.

For example, if you decide on a cloud-based backup, determine how long it will take to download when you need it.

The following six guidelines should be included in your decision-making process:

  1. Choose a business class solution, not a consumer solution.

  2. Determine exactly what data that you need to back up.

  3. Determine the total storage that you’ll need.

  4. Decide how long the backups need to be available.

  5. Decide how quickly you will need to restore your data in the event of a disaster.

Data Backup Options

Here are the main types of backups for businesses:

File-Based Backups - If you just need your files and not the software to run them, then all you need is a file-based backup, but obviously you can’t do anything with the data by itself.

Image-Based Backups - Think of an image-based backup as a snapshot of your server. Not only is all of the data stored, all of your software  and how it is configured is captured..

Cloud-Based Backups - Uploading your backups to a location on the internet means your data is safe if something happens to your physical location. However, you need sufficient bandwidth to both upload everything for storage, and download everything for use.

On-site Backups - Data is stored in devices at your location. If your office is damaged or destroyed by an accident or incident, you could be impossible to retrieve your data.

Off-site Backups - Data is stored at a location other than your office.

Failover - Failover protects your business from downtime if something happens to your server by continually synchronizing one server with another.

Testing 1, 2, 3

Don’t neglect to test your backup from time to time to assure that the backup is performing properly and that you can move to backup systems, or recover data as you have planned.

The Ideal Backup Scenario

When you’re deciding how to backup your data, you might be looking at a combination of the above options and the costs for each could be a go or no-go consideration. For example, you might need a cloud-based image backup, along with a failover.

It all depends on your business needs and how quickly you need to get back up and running, which is what disaster recovery is all about in our next section.

What You Need to Know About Disaster Recovery

Disasters Can Come From Force Majeure or the Delete Button

What comes to mind when you hear the word disaster? Earthquakes, floods and fires? No doubt these all can have disastrous consequences but when you’re an organization that relies on technology, any time something goes amiss with your data could be a potential disaster for you and everyone in your world, including your customers. Data disasters can come in the form of cyber attacks, equipment malfunctions and plain old human error just as they can come from force majeure. 

Now the question is what will you do is something does, in fact, happen? That’s where your Disaster Recovery Plan comes in. This documented set of procedures details step-by-step processes that your staff will follow in the event that your operations go down and you have to get back up and running from your backups.

Developing Your Recovery Strategy

Because disasters come in many forms and you don’t know exactly what you’ll face in the future, you need to be prepared for different scenarios

.

We hope that you never have to experience anything more than a mistakenly deleted file, but when you’re creating your plan you also have to think through what you would do if something happened to your physical assets -- your building, computers, phones, equipment, etc. -- and you had to not only completely restore operations, but you had to do it from a different location. 

Begin to create your disaster recovery plan by thinking through these five steps:​

 

  • Inventory all of your hardware, software, and equipment.

  • Determine your threshold for downtime. (See RPO and RTO below.)

  • Assign responsibilities for implementation of your plan

  • Plan how you will communicate with employees, customers, vendors and others.

  • Plan how you will operate at alternate locations

How Much Data Loss Can You Live With?

Your answer is none, right? Unfortunately, you have to ask yourself that question. It might be unrealistic for you to have an backup and recovery system that eliminates the possibility of downtime in most scenarios, but most companies need their Disaster Recovery Plan to fit their budget, too. That’s why Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective are so important.

 

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

Your recovery point is the time between your last backup and your data crash. For example, if your data was backed up at 4 am and a crash happens at noon, then you will have everything backed up EXCEPT for that day’s transactions. Now imagine that you only backup once a week. Will you realistically be able to recreate everything that happened in that situation -- all your orders, invoices, payables, and operational information? Probably not.

 

To determine your recovery point, you have to think about how sensitive your business would be to lost data and weigh that with the options and budget you have to work with. Sometimes the best way to achieve your RPO is by using a combination of backup solutions such as cloud-based and on-site that have different parameters.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

 

Your recovery time is the amount of time that you can be without your data while systems are restored. It will probably take longer than you imagine to get operations back up and running after a data crash. Obviously, it’s going to take a lot longer to recover from an event that takes down your physical building than to recover from something like a cyber attack. Even so, it is not uncommon for a company that is not fully prepared to be down for days or even weeks after a data breach. 

 

Often when managers are going through the process of creating a Disaster Recovery Plan, and thinking about their objectives for restoring operations, it leads them to think about how they can assure that the company will even survive a full-blown disaster, and that’s where Business Continuity comes in.

What You Need to Know About Business Continuity

Do you want your business to be able to continue after you experience an incident like a cyber attack, natural disaster or some other type of unexpected disruption? If your answer is yes, then you need to have a Business Continuity plan.

It’s best to set aside any false sense of security that might be keeping you from taking the time to equip your business to withstand a major incident. It could mean the difference between having to shut down or, well, continuing.

The Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is a component of Business Continuity. Your business continuity plan will encompass your business as a whole and include non-technical aspects such as physical facility and equipment, personnel, supply chain and communications.

Components of a Business Continuity Plan

Your Business Continuity Plan will look different depending upon your business. For example, a manufacturing company might need to outsource production for a period of time. A financial services company might need to get workers set up in a different physical location with laptops.

No matter what the industry, there are some common components of the plan:

  1. Assessing potential risks and predicting their level of severity

  2. Planning out your response and what resources will be needed to get your priority functions up and running.

  3. Determining the roles of employees in deploying the plan.

  4. How you will communicate internally and externally, including who will be the spokesperson to the media?

  5. Assurance that the plan is functional with testing and updating as necessary.

Don’t Wait for a Disaster to Find Out If Your Plan Works… or Not

Jimmy's provides Data Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity to Southern California businesses through our Comprehensive IT Management framework. Call us today to explore how you can empower your goals by improving your IT experience.

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About Jimmy Beasley

You deserve the best possible results from information technology (IT).  But when it comes to IT, many executives don't know where to start.

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