Disaster recovery planning: IT solutions and best practices that lead to success

Our community faces natural disasters that are very different from other parts of the country. We’re lucky enough to be safe from earthquakes on par with California’s, or hurricanes as devastating as those in the Gulf, but 2017’s Lake County floods and spring snowstorm shut down thousands of businesses in Dekalb, Rockford and Beloit.

Luckily, Sundog clients weren’t among them. That’s because whether we’re talking about winter winds that snap power lines in half, or about financially motivated hackers, 25 years of disaster recovery planning has taught us a thing or two about business continuity. Here’s what we’ve learned.

Planning is half the work

There’s a reason Hannibal from the A-Team delivered his signature line so often. When a plan comes together at the hands of a group of trained professionals, almost anything is possible. When one of our client’s needs a new disaster recovery plan (DRP), we gather our own A-team of cloud, virtualization, backup, and VoIP specialists to make sure everything is accounted for.

And every plan needs to be drafted from scratch, because you can’t have your existing workflows and processes suffering at the hands of a cookie-cutter solution.

For example, before DRP safeguards are put in place, there must be a plan to create three copies of every file your company owns. One should be the original, one should be stored on another computer or drive, and one should be backed up somewhere away from the office. Only then will everything be safe from ice storms and online attacks.

You should also know, down to the minute, how quickly your office will be able to get back up and running. With SundogBACKUP, this is easy to calculate thanks to virtualized servers and VoIP phones that are on standby in the cloud. You won’t pay for them until you need them, and they’ll make it possible for employees to keep working even if the office is under water or frozen shut.

Once a plan that accounts for every possible disaster has been drafted, the work can start on setting it up.

DRP implemenation doesn’t have to be bittersweet

Most in-house technicians, and a surprising number of outsourced IT providers, would struggle to install the necessary disaster recovery solutions without causing significant network downtime. So instead of that warm and fuzzy “I’m safe” feeling, many business owners are left playing catch-up. But there is another way.

Some managed services providers, like Sundog, work after hours and on weekends to minimize business interruptions. That way, everything from firewalls to Office 365 documents can be integrated into your new DRP all at once. The finished product should include:

  • Automated and encrypted cloud backups for desktops, laptops, and servers
  • Easy-to-use data recovery tools
  • On-demand storage upgrades for sudden spikes in need
  • Daily reports and emergency notifications
  • Company-wide training

That leaves you with your needs and expectations outlined in a detailed plan, all the necessary IT solutions in place, and all your employees trained on what to do during a disaster. So that means there’s only one last thing to do.

Regularly test and update your DRP

Forming and executing the plan always managed to take less than 22 minutes for Hannibal and the rest of the A-Team, but you won’t be so lucky. Files, folders, users and phone numbers added to your network after your plan has been installed can sometimes slip through the cracks. So even if you have an in-house expert or an off-site team of qualified technicians, you will need to set aside time to regularly test and update your DRP.

Ideally, you should have monthly or quarterly reviews to ensure every aspect of your office IT infrastructure that has been changed, expanded, or discontinued is up to date in your plan. Then, you need to run as many real-world tests as possible, including accessing your newest employee’s documents in the cloud, taking calls from an office phone number on a disaster-ready laptop, booting up a virtual copy of your office server, etc. Trust us, it’ll make you feel much better.

The DRP shortcut

Sundog was ranked one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies in the US because our services deliver immediate results and get better with age. You could pay for a one-off disaster recovery plan from an IT consultant, but why would you when you could get everything listed above plus on-call tech support for a fixed monthly cost?

You don’t even need to sign up to see us in action. Schedule a free consultation to receive a report that outlines what your customized SundogBACKUP plan would include.

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