Hurricane season officially started on Monday, June 1. And although the NOAA estimates that this year will be a slow one for tropical formation in the Atlantic Ocean, the occasion still highlights the importance of disaster preparedness—especially in light of the devastating thunderstorms, tornados, and floods that struck a broad swath of the country in April and May.
So what does this have to do with technology? Many business owners overlook remote backup, disaster preparedness, and business continuity planning because they assume a natural disaster will never affect them. The National Small Business Administration’s 2013 Small Business Disaster Survey found that 74% of small business owners don’t have a disaster recovery plan; 84% don’t have natural disaster insurance; and 71% don’t have access to a backup generator.
Why? Many say it’s because they don’t live on the coast, near a river, or in Tornado Alley, or on a fault line. But the NSBA estimates that 65% of US businesses are situated in geographic areas that regularly suffer from natural disasters. And the data centers that house the bulk of U.S. business information are primarily located in populous states like California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Washington—coincidentally, the same five states that lead the pack in FEMA disaster declarations.
So What Can You Do to Give Your Business a Leg up When It Comes to Disaster Preparedness?
CMIT Solutions recommends the following five critical steps:
1)Implement off-site, redundant, and encrypted data backups. The vast majority of business backups are done on-site—often on drives located directly next to the computers they’re backing up. If fire, flood, or theft affects your business, you can’t expect those backups to be spared.
2) Prepare risk assessments that plan for the aftereffects of any crisis, not just specific threats. Instead of getting bogged down in the details of a particular disruption, comprehensive disaster recovery planning addresses the steps necessary to get your business up and running, no matter the event.
3) Formulate a business continuity plan. Many business owners think that, even if a disaster strikes, they’ll only be affected for a few days. This is one of the indirectly harmful assumptions one can make—take Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy, for instance, which both put over 50% of the small companies in their paths out of business for good. Those that were able to maintain operations via mobile phone, laptop, or even good old-fashioned handshakes were the ones that saw their reputations as pillars of the community strengthen in the wake of those devastating storms.
4) Create (and test!) a virtualization strategy before disaster strikes. The best disaster preparedness plans include virtualization, which takes the data you have backed up remotely and rebuilds it on existing or secondary equipment in case of disaster. But if you haven’t tested your solution to see how quickly it can retrieve information and get you back up and running, you could suffer. Top-tier offerings like CMIT Guardian can perform a full restore in less than 48 hours—and those hours can mean the difference between weathering a storm and succumbing to it.
5) Understand incident management. This focuses on employee responsibility and communication—how everyone will be notified in the wake of a disaster, who handles which parts of the recovery plan, what lines of communication will be relied upon, primary roles vs. backup roles, etc. Testing these in advance is crucial to success.
Even if this information convinces you of the critical nature of disaster preparedness, you may not know how to implement such a plan. That’s where CMIT Solutions comes in: we specialize in helping small to medium-sized businesses prepare for and weather even the roughest of storms.
In the last few years, we’ve helped scores of businesses survive hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and ice storms, along with the day-to-day perils of human error and hardware failure. As fellow business owners ourselves, the best feeling we get is when we can help you overcome such obstacles. Contact us today so we can put you on the path to well-prepared success.