Protecting your businesses data goes without saying. It’s also crucial to have a disaster recovery plan should anything go wrong.

A common question asked by many businesses is what’s the difference between busines continuity and disaster recovery – and do I need a recovery plan? (Yes).

Either process is possible without the other as they’re both slightly different concepts but should be a necessary implementation if you want to protect your organisation. It’s a scary thought to think that businesses who have experienced some form of data disaster have closed down not long after, simply due to the internal loss.

Protecting your businesses data goes without saying. It’s crucial and it’s also crucial to have a disaster recovery plan should anything go wrong and a plan to recover support systems that may have got caught up in the disaster.

Understanding Business Continuity

Business continuity is designed to ensure you can still maintain essential functions should you experience a disaster. Consider this a risk assessment of process and procedures which help to prevent further interruption to critical services.

Keeping downtime to a minimum is key in order to protect yourself from events you may not have much power against, such as cyberattacks, fires, natural disaster etc.

No matter the size of your business, both large and small should invest in time to consider business continuity. If you experience any kind of downtime your business continuity plan is there to ensure you can still access certain functions, saving money, time and considering the risk, your companies reputation.

One aspect of understanding business continuity is by knowing where your systems are vulnerable and at most risk. A business continuity plan starts by identifying your organisations weaknesses.

You’ll also have clear steps as part of your plan, of how to respond to keep minimal functions operational should you experience downtime.

Depending on the size your organisation you may only have one person manage business continuity or if you’re a larger business, you may have several or a whole team. It also helps to have multiple individuals at least aware of business continuity in case of an emergency.

Testing business continuity is possible and advised to ensure those involved are ready should a real critical emergency strike, this will also help you identify any other areas of weakness which weren’t picked up previously.

Understanding Disaster Recovery

Having the ability to restore applications, data and hardware rapidly is invaluable but there are still many, many businesses out there that don’t have a plan in place and should they ever experience a hardware or network error, natural disaster or even a disaster at the hands of a human error, organisations may find themselves in a very tricky situation.

Backup and recovery solutions tend to be under-valued and so many businesses are caught out with no route left to go down. Disaster recovery is in the name, it’s a separate plan from business continuity which help to get systems back up and running after a disaster.

Speed is of the essence when it comes to disaster recovery. Your internal or external IT team will work to quickly restore IT assets, so you can continue operating, even within minimal function but enough to prevent loss of revenue and keep downtime low.

The first step to implementing disaster recovery is your plan. Disaster recovery plans should be updated as regular as possible to ensure they are effective when needed.

One simple question is, when was the last time you backed up your systems? If the answer was a while ago, then perhaps it’s time to give it some serious thought.

A disaster recovery plan should include the ability to capture snapshots of critical IT devices to encrypted and secure storage platforms, such as the cloud or even off-site hosted storage.

Other common disaster recovery methods can include:

  • Offsite replication of backup images to an offsite NAS device or cloud storage
  • Hourly incremental backups to USB or NAS devices.
  • AES 256-bit encryption of backup images for highly sensitive data and information

It also goes without saying that regular testing for backup and disaster recovery solutions will continue to help your businesses and improve processes and procedures.

Why your business needs a recovery plan

We’ve mentioned it previously, no data, no business. Unfortunately, small businesses appear to be higher statistic of businesses that go under, as they don’t have some form of business continuity or disaster recovery plan in place to help them out when things go wrong.

If your business, both small or large, does not have a recovery plan in place, you’ve already put your organisation at high risk of data and financial loss, which can lead to a loss of customer service and reputation.

Sadly, there isn’t an ‘official’ separate plan for the business reputation and customer retention. If it comes to light to your customers that your systems have been compromised, you also need to consider how you would deal with that, to ensure your customers trust going forward.

Obviously, not many of us can predict a natural disaster or other unfortunate events such as a fire or a flood. Events where a disaster occurs from cyberattacks could potentially have even more devastating affects, as you’re putting data at a different type of risk other than just loss.

Luckily, creating a business continuity or disaster recovery plan is simple and there are many IT firms out there who have years and years’ worth of experience to provide you with the necessary steps in order to protect your organisation.

Once you have a recovery plan in place, you’ve instantly given your organisation an extra layer of security and efficiency – you’ll probably wish you did it sooner!

You may also discover by reaching out to external IT firms, your disaster recovery service is flexible and tailored to your businesses individual requirements. You can scale it up, scale it down and only pay for the services you actually use.

Outsourcing external IT services can therefore prove to be much more affordable and beneficial and should a disaster occur, you have a team of experienced IT engineers who can begin to restore and secure applications, data and processes before it gets to a point of no return.