The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Strategy

The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Strategy

Disaster recovery is ensuring that all of your data can be restored in event of anything going wrong. This includes outside factors such as hacking or malware, internal problems such as server failure, and human error, including staff mistakes.

You can arrange your own data storage, but using a third-party IT services partner is a better idea. They can store your data securely offsite or in the cloud, make regular backups and deal with restoring information to your servers so you can concentrate on running your business.

What is a Disaster Recovery Strategy?

A disaster recovery strategy, then, is a document which maps out exactly how your business will deal with a disaster of any kind. Ideally, it will include step by step instructions for what needs to be done.

It should include how the information will be restored and when, and what staff need to do to keep the day to day work going. If you’re using an IT partner, it should outline what they’ll be doing to help, and how your office will communicate with them. They need to be able to keep you informed of progress while they recover the data.

Your strategy needs to available and accessible to all relevant staff members and partners, and everybody should be aware of their role and responsibilities in the event of a disaster. Make sure there’s a hard copy in case of major server failures or even a power cut!

How to Create a Disaster Recovery Strategy

You need to know what data you hold and where, and how often it’s backed up. Some companies only back up information once a day, or a system such as ATG’s 5nines will take copies of data more often.

Include key personnel both in your company, at your IT support services provider, and at customer and supplier offices if you need to inform them of a breach or failure. Have contact numbers and an agreed communication plan in place.

You must also include what’s known as the recovery time objective (RTO), which is how much time is allowed for everything to be back up and running after an incident so that there is minimum disruption to the everyday business.

The RTO should be established as part of your planning for business continuity and agreed with senior management. Include options for measures you can take if things take longer than agreed, or if you need a manual solution.

Alongside this, the RPO (recovery point objective) also needs to be agreed as part of your disaster recovery strategy. This covers a window of time where data might be lost during a disaster and can be measured in hours or minutes. The backups you have created (onsite or offsite) need to be able to restore everything that could be lost in this timeframe.

RTO and RPO both form part of the business impact analysis, which should be completed ahead of the production of your disaster recovery strategy. It lists which systems and processes need to be included in your strategy – these are critical to the operation of your business.

You will need to factor in costs for backup, disaster recovery and additional support and resources you may need. Take into account the financial impact a disaster will have on your income and cash flow too. 

Why a Strategy is Vital for Your Business

There are two main reasons why you should have a disaster recovery strategy in place in your business, and both are equally important. Firstly, you have a responsibility to your customers to keep their data secure and to be able to get it back if anything goes wrong. This also applies to any information you hold which relates to suppliers.

Secondly, it is necessary in order to make sure you’re compliant with government legislation. With the introduction of GDPR in May last year, you now have a legal obligation to be able to recover data.

Not having a strategy in place, and ensuring that data is backed up frequently, means you’re risking heavy fines, which could have a serious impact on your cash flow. It also means you’ll look unprofessional to your clients.

The GDPR ruling states that every business holding personal data must be able to restore access to it in the event of a disaster and that this must be in a ‘timely manner’. This is for the benefit of both your customers and the running of your business. You need to be regularly reassessing your strategy to ensure it’s still fit for purpose.

To help you be better prepared and to plan your own disaster recovery strategy, download our helpful guide here.