Making a disaster recovery plan

Data recovery: What matters when disaster hits

Twain Taylor
data recovery
© Shutterstock / Anake Seenadee

Did you know: Almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen following a natural disaster. All businesses, large and small, should have a data recovery plan in case disaster hits, whether that disaster is a flood or accidentally deleting critical code. Here’s what to anticipate when disaster strikes, and how to start preparing a solid recovery plan.

Disaster recovery is about adopting a set of policies and procedures with an aim to protect or recover an organization’s crucial data and infrastructure. It prepares organizations for times of disaster when struck by cyberattacks, natural calamity, hardware failures, or human error. A proper disaster recovery plan helps restore applications, hardware, and data quickly so that the business can continue without any loss.

Enterprises handle lots of important and sensitive data on a daily basis. This data may also include client data among other very crucial information. Therefore, there is a need to protect and secure this data in the case of a disaster.

Data can be easily lost due to various reasons. It is an enterprise’s responsibility to ensure that important data and workloads are secure and backed up, and all services can be made functional again in the least possible time.

What to anticipate when disaster hits

Hardware damage

Hardware damage occurs mostly in case of natural calamities like floods, fires, rains or earthquakes. 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after such disasters. A disaster can lead to equipment failure and power outages. This could mean that crucial applications may be down temporarily and lead to a loss. Locally stored data can be permanently lost if the storage hardware gets damaged.

Data loss

Data loss is an unavoidable situation for any organization. Mission-critical data can be lost permanently in seconds due to any disasters, human or natural. You should have a very strong backup and recovery plan to make your business survive any disaster.

Data breaches

Data breaches are something very important to tackle at early as it plays a major role in crucial data loss. Hacking can be prevented through data encryption, data masking, and backups.

Making a disaster recovery plan

Data recovery strategy plan

A disaster recovery plan is the lynchpin of an overall business continuity strategy. A recovery plan should include how to keep business services running at the time when the organization is recovering from a disaster. Discontinuity of services due to lack of proper can result in losing customers to competitors.

Backup plan

Talking about a small human error, a project developed by a team or a person in a span of a month, a year, or a week can be lost due to any reason like files getting corrupted by adding some new code or someone deleting a file by mistake. To avoid rework and to save a lot of time, daily, weekly, monthly backups should be scheduled accordingly as per project needs.

A disaster recovery plan is much more than documentation. Ideally, a DRP involves a deep risk and business impact assessment that sheds light on potential vulnerabilities and possible business impact in case of a shutdown. A DRP also includes an assessment of all hardware to ensure support is quickly available if the need arises.

SEE ALSO: Agile database development best practices

A DRP also includes the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for different applications and services. These metrics should ideally be in milliseconds, however, that is not practical. Therefore these metrics should be properly identified to reduce the downtime to the minimum. It should also include the roles and responsibilities of various employees in case of a disaster.

Incident management

An IT incident is any disruption to an organization’s IT services that can affect a single user to the entire business. An incident is anything that interrupts business continuity. Incident management is a technique of managing any disruptions in business and restoring services within agreed service level agreements (SLAs). An IT service desk team is a single contact between the IT team and end-users every business should adopt ITIL to improve efficiency and productivity.


If an incident results in a situation that requires notifying employee’s family, such as hospitalization of injured persons, a team should be available to accomplish the task without fail.

Media Interactions

Only assigned staff is permitted direct contact with the media, working according to the guidelines issued by the company for post-disaster communications.

Media interactions should be done keeping a few things in mind like avoiding adverse publicity and having answers to basic questions.

  • What happened?
  • How did it happen?
  • How are you going to deal with it?

What should be done about important data

Data is the backbone of any enterprise and it is extremely important that steps are taken to ensure that data is not lost in case of a disaster. Enterprises should ensure their data is constantly backed up at secondary storage locations away from the primary data centers so that the backups are not exposed to the same risks as the primary storage.

Applications should be assessed and based on this assessment backup process and should be optimized ensuring the most efficient backup strategy. Crucial data can save over the cloud from time to time.

What backup solutions to rely on

There are various backup solutions available in the market. These solutions all offer an array of services. The best ones are the ones that give enterprises the most value at the least price. An ideal backup solution should be fast and should provide efficient data protection. It will store backups in a secure and constantly available environment. A good backup and recovery solution curbs cost incurred by data loss and provides automated frequent backups that make for the least possible loss of data in case of a disaster.

SEE ALSO: Considering a database migration to cloud? Here is what you should know

There will also be no need to have additional physical storage as it will provide cloud-based backups. Backup solutions are ideally inexpensive and incur predictable costs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important backup features.

VM backups

VMs are an important and integral part of any enterprise. These VMs hold crucial data and run important applications. A backup solution should provide a comprehensive VM backup that is quick and automated. VM backups should be frequent and compressed to ensure the least occupation of storage. VM backups should be restored quickly and with ease.

Site recovery

Another important feature that a data backup and recovery solution should contain is site recovery. Completely automated site recovery ensures application availability without any downtime while also eliminating the cost and time required for manually implementing disaster recovery. An efficient solution constantly monitors backups and notifies if a certain backup is unavailable. It can also help establish RTOs and meet them on time when disaster strikes.

Backup to the cloud

Keeping backups at the same location as the primary infrastructure is not safe because both the backup and the primary system will end up being exposed to the same kinds of threats. Backing up to the cloud ensures the backups are safe no matter what happens to the primary infrastructure. Cloud storage is efficient as enterprises don’t have to purchase, install, maintain, and constantly upgrade physical hardware.

Cloud storage is always available and can easily scale up based on an enterprise’s requirement. Cloud backups can also be restored quicker and more efficiently. Enterprises can also cut cost as there is no need to maintain an additional environment. Ideally, a backup solution should allow incremental backups that take less time and occupy less space.

Wrapping it up

Disaster recovery is crucial for every enterprise, big or small. Therefore, enterprises should invest in tools that take care of all their backup and recovery needs while at the same time offering features that ease this process.

A backup solution should be highly available and provide efficient backup solutions that help save storage and is cost-effective at the same time.

data recovery

Twain Taylor

Twain (@twaintaylor) is a Fixate IO Contributor and began his career at Google, where, among other things, he was involved in technical support for the AdWords team. His work involved reviewing stack traces, and resolving issues affecting both customers and the Support team, and handling escalations. Later, he built branded social media applications, and automation scripts to help startups better manage their marketing operations. Today, as a technology journalist he helps IT magazines, and startups change the way teams build and ship applications.

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