The practice of keeping data backups has been around for decades, long before the digital transformation we find ourselves in today. And now, backups have become more essential than ever since one disaster can make or break a small or mid-size business. Because today’s IT infrastructures continue to evolve and expand, data repositories are less centralized, significantly increasing the risk of losing critical data.
Despite this clear trend, many companies still like to think of backups like an external USB drive, where they can just copy all their files to a single external source. To truly minimize downtime and reach full business continuity, you need a comprehensive backup strategy to ensure you’re accounting for all data sources. How do you create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan? It’s simple; just be sure to avoid the following mistakes!
You Don’t Account for All Critical Data Sources
Just like we alluded to above, one of the most common reasons for a loss of data during a disaster is not accounting for all your critical data sources. Most businesses have critical information in a variety of different places, including app data, data files, database data, server configurations, and of course company email services like Office 365 or Gmail.
What most people don’t realize is that each of these components may require their own individual backup tools. Backup isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and it isn’t quite as easy as just flipping a switch. Make sure all critical data sources are accounted for, or chances are you’ll end up losing some valuable data.
You Don’t Regularly Test Data Integrity and Backup Restore
It’s great that you have a backup plan in place, but if you aren’t regularly testing the process and your data integrity, then how do you know if your disaster recovery plan is working? At Envision we test critical data backups at least once a quarter for each client to make sure everything is in line. You don’t want an actual disaster to be the first time you try testing out your disaster recovery plan!
You Haven’t Established Downtime Tolerance or Documented a Retention Policy
As we’ve already mentioned and you already know, downtime is hindering and expensive. To avoid the costly effects of too much downtime, make sure to have a documented retention policy and establish downtime tolerance. It will differ from industry to industry, but it’s essential you know how long you can go without critical business functions. If not, too much downtime can potentially be the end as nearly 40% of businesses never reopen after a disaster.
Your Backups Are Not Set up to Restore Multiple Versions of Files
This is another often forgotten area of backup planning as many don’t see the need in restoring multiple versions of their files. But if you need an older version of a file before changes were made, or you need to see previous edits, you’re out of luck unless you backup multiple versions of your critical files.
Your Backups Take Too Long to Restore
While a loss of critical data can be very harmful to a business, having your backups take too long can be just as devastating. The average downtime from an outage costs a company an estimated $50,000. Now that may not be enough to close a business down, but how would you like to lose $50,000 in revenue just because you weren’t adequately prepared?
Your Staff is Unprepared
Even if you have a great disaster recovery plan in place, if your staff isn’t ready to perform the plan to perfection, the plan is essentially useless. Does your staff have the equipment they need to continue working and communicating? Do they know their role and what they need to do?
If they don’t, then it’s time you fill them in. Everyone needs to know exactly what they need to do in the event of a disaster, and it’s best if employees are cross-trained to be able to perform the roles of others if need be. If your employees aren’t prepared for a disaster, you can bet the after effects and data loss are going to be devastating.
As you can see, backups and disaster recovery are more complex than many think. It’s never just a “flip the switch and you’re done” type of thing. It takes planning and identifying what your critical data sources are, establishing downtime tolerance, creating a retention policy, and preparing your staff if you want to be prepared in the event of a disaster.
At Envision, we on working with small and midsize organizations to develop, implement and maintain backup and disaster recovery best practices to minimize risk in the event of a disaster (small or large) and maximize the likelihood of success to keep business running. If you are in need of a helping hand to evaluate your backup practices or to plan and implement them altogether, all you need to do is schedule a call with a member of our team.