Disaster Recovery: “Reasons to be Careful... 1, 2, 3 (and 4)”
Ever since the London Chamber of Commerce conducted research into the implications of data loss disasters and announced that 90% of businesses suffering a major data loss went under within two years, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have really started bucking their ideas up when it comes to devising a Disaster Recovery plan. But what does that mean, exactly? Well, if you have to ask, then it probably means you’re one of the SMBs that think ‘it’ will never happen to you. Which may be true, but is it really worth taking the risk (and it is a risk) of not implementing a sound disaster recovery policy? Well, read on, then decide for yourself.
These days, it’s not just major corporations who are reliant on critical data stored on their computers and servers. In the same way that the revenue of many UK businesses rides on their uninterrupted visibility in the search engines, it also relies on their uninterrupted access to critical data. This can mean anything from customer databases, product skus, pricing information and card details, to staff related data (ever tried explaining to your workforce that they won’t be getting paid on time because all the wage data has been corrupted?).
Whilst many businesses used to rely on periodical backups to tape, current wisdom suggests that the key to getting back on track quickly after an IT disaster, is having a comprehensive Disaster Recovery plan that utilises a multi-faceted approach to backup - including a cloud-based solution - for fast access to an up-to-the-minute copy of your critical data.
So what are the most common causes of disaster-related system downtime?
1. Hardware failure
Hardware failure is the number one cause of downtime for SMBs at a whopping 55%*. You may think you’re prepared by having reserve computer power supplies, network controllers or drives, but you can never predict all the wild and wonderful ways in which today’s fantastic technology can fail on you (at the most inopportune moment). A common disaster to befall SMBs is a failure of the storage-area network (SAN). These are often large, and nearly always critical to the day-to-day running of a company. When they fail, watch business grind to a complete halt.
2. Human error
Second place in the IT Disaster Olympics goes to an old favourite: human error, with a score of 22%*. While you may think there’s nobody in your company careless enough to wipe an important file (or batch of files) off your server, if you employ humans, you’re vulnerable to human error. End of story. A business continuity and disaster recovery plan can insure against this. And remember: in the words of the National Lottery, “It Could be You!”.
3. Software failure
3rd place, with 18%* goes to software failure, which is hardly surprising with the amount of version updates, bug fixes, APIs and plug-ins that go part-and-parcel with most software these days. The key take-away being you shouldn’t always trust that an update or new patch has been adequately tested by the software vendor before they send it out (anyone who has lost their music collection after trustingly installing an iTunes update will attest to this). Having a test environment is a good idea. Also, we shouldn’t forget the danger of malware and viruses and the use of creaking, old operating systems – both contributing to a large number of software failures.
4. Natural disasters
We’re lucky in the UK to not be subject to much in the way of natural disasters, and even in the US where these statistics originated, only 5%* of IT disasters are attributed to natural phenomena. But floods do happen and fires do happen, and whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime hurricane or a defective toaster in the staff room that’s the cause of your woes, offsite backup of data is essential
*Source: Quorum Disaster Recovery Report, Q1 2013
Whatever your business, it’s vital to make sure you have thought through how to restore your critical data and applications quickly. Ask yourself these questions:
Do you have quick access to everything you need to recover if disaster strikes?
What are the precise steps required to restore a failed server, and have you or another member of staff documented these?
If you had to move your business operations and staff to an alternative location in the event of a disaster, do you have a plan in place?
If you have a satisfactory set of answers to these questions, then give yourself a pat on the back (maybe even buy yourself a beer). If not, or even if you’re not 100% sure about the solidity of your current Disaster Recovery / backup protocol, get in touch with us here at Everything Tech IT Services, Manchester's disaster recovery specialists, for an informal chat about your strategy on 0161 452 3233 or via our contact form.