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7 disaster preparation and recovery tips

July 09, 2019

It’s hurricane season. Are your nonprofit and SMB customers ready?
 

Given the preponderance of violent weather in the news lately, the following statistics are particularly alarming:

  • Nearly 75% of small business owners don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place.
  • 80% don’t have any natural disaster insurance.
  • About 70% don’t have access to a power generator in the event of an electrical shutdown.
They are also surprising given the potential consequences: 25 to 45% of businesses fail to reopen after a disaster and roughly 70% of those companies that suffer data loss are forced to go out of business within 2 years of the disaster.
 
Nonprofits tend to be particularly vulnerable since limited financial resources often prevent them from investing in disaster recovery.
 

Still, with meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting a busy hurricane season—up to 15 storms have already been named—every organization should have plans in place to weather any potential disaster. Here are 7 steps they can take.

  1. Data centers should be located in the most protected areas available.
    Ideally this should be in an area that would be least susceptible to water damage or flooding.
  2. Create a disaster recovery plan.
    The plan should be based on a careful analysis of how a hurricane or other disaster could affect operations and exactly what data needs to be safeguarded. Consider the personnel who would be required to facilitate the recovery, the processes that need to be put in place and the technology that’s required to implement the plan. Preventative measures such as data backup and storage should be part of the plan—and a protocol should be established for how often data is backed up and where. Those small organizations that lack sufficient IT personnel can hire a managed service provider (MSP) to make the assessment and help implement the plan. Of course, the amount of time and resources an organization puts into preparing for an outage will depend on how long it can afford to be down. Being able to survive without IT resources and data for a day or two is different from every hour being critical, and the cost and effort an organization puts into preparation should reflect this.
  3. Back up in multiple locations.
    While onsite backups are common and standard operating procedure in most organizations, they aren’t sufficient. Secure encrypted data backups in the cloud as well as remote locations far away from the main headquarters (so they’re not susceptible to the same disaster) offer added protection.
  4. Virtualize IT resources.
    Virtual private and hybrid cloud options deliver the highest level of performance and availability. They can be configured to perform complete offsite infrastructure restores in hours. This can mean the difference between surviving a storm and falling victim to it. 
  5. Invest in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
  6. That way, the equipment can keep on running, at least temporarily, should the building lose power.
  7. Implement teleworking solutions (mobile devices, cloud services, virtual desktop environments, etc.) for staff members.
  8. This will allow operations to continue during the disruption. It’s also a smart idea to invest in call forwarding in case phone service is disrupted.
  9. Shut down and unplug all IT equipment during the storm.
    If that’s not possible, make sure every server has reliable surge protection and a UPS, and all files are backed up.
Basic precautions like these can go a long way toward ensuring that your nonprofit and SMB customers will still be around should a disaster strike. To learn more, contact our data center expert, Nick Vermiglio nick.vermiglio@ingrammicro.com.