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Tornados, Floods, and Earthquakes Oh My! Why You Need A Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Living in Northern Illinois, we face the risks of tornados, flash floods, and even occasional earthquakes. While many organizations have plans to safeguard their employees during these natural disasters, what about the critical data stored on servers and workstations? Mother Nature doesn’t always provide advance notice when she unleashes destruction. However, having a Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) plan in place ensures preparedness for whatever challenges she throws our way.

Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) involves two critical processes:

  1. Backup: This is the process of creating copies of files. Regular backups ensure that your data is safe and can be restored if needed.
  2. Disaster Recovery: It encompasses the plan and processes for using those backup copies to quickly regain access to applications, data, and IT resources after an outage. For instance, if your primary data center is affected, you might switch over to redundant servers and storage systems until normal operations can resume.

Neglecting backup and disaster recovery can lead to lost productivity, revenue, and even customers. To put this in perspective, let’s put a dollar value to your IT downtime. If the cost of your BDR plan is higher than the savings it generates during a downtime event, that’s a disaster in and of itself. To calculate the cost of an IT crisis we need to break down each department hour by hour.

The formula for calculating one hour of downtime is

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For example, if half of our imaginary stationary shop’s revenue comes from in-store sales and half comes from people who found its website, one hour of IT-related lost revenue will be sales revenue divided by two (because in-store sales aren’t affected). If two employees are processing online orders, lost productivity will be their combined hourly wages.

For recovery costs, you need to estimate how much money it will take to restore the affected systems. Do you work with an IT contractor? Recovery costs will be his or her hourly fee, plus the cost of whatever IT hardware and software is needed to get things working again. Think about reputational costs in terms of how many sales leads would notice a downtime event. If your website was down for two full days, how many leads would decide to cross your team off their list and how much lost revenue would that work out to be per hour?

Calculate how much one hour of downtime will cost you:

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Now that you have the numbers, lets go through the 7 Rules to a basic BDR Plan:

Rule #1: Every file gets the 3-2-1 treatment
The first and most important rule of data backup has been around since the era of floppy disks. It goes like this: Every file your business creates should have at least 3 copies, stored on at least 2 different types of media, with at least 1 copy located somewhere other than your office. If you need to create and save an invoice, following the 3-2-1 rule might look like this: In the case of an office fire, only two of the three copies are at risk of being destroyed. Similarly, if the network and the accountant’s computer crashed, the invoice is still accessible from the removable drive

Rule #2: Hourly backups are critical
Many IT solution providers set their customer backups to happen nightly, but what they are not considering is the impact of such infrequent backups. In today’s world, data is entered all day and every day. Imagine if disaster struck at 4PM and you had to restore from the previous night losing an entire days worth of data you and your staff entered. The financial impact would be devastating. With modern backup technology, backups can be set to run hourly with no impact on your day to day operations

Rule #3: Hourly backups are critical
Don’t forget to factor in your long-term needs when selecting a BDR plan. It would be pretty awful if you spent a month and a couple thousand dollars installing the best backup solution available only to outgrow it a year later. To avoid this, clarify storage and functionality limitations with vendors and IT providers before finalizing the deal, and ask the following questions: Cloud backup solutions should be able to accommodate anything a small- or medium-sized business would ever need, but you need to confirm that the technicians supporting your plan are committed to quick turnarounds and reliable service.

Rule #4: Security is as important as recovery
Cybersecurity must be a top priority in any BDR plan. If you are backing up data to the cloud, it should be protected by cutting-edge intrusion prevention tools, firewalls, and advanced encryption systems. We usually integrate our clients’ backup plans with IT support so everything can be monitored together. Ransomware infections can spread to your cloud backups if files are automatically synced to the cloud. So before you finalize your backup plan, make sure your provider offers 24/7 monitoring to stop the spread of malware infections.

Rule #5: There’s an RPO that saves you dough
On-site and cloud storage solutions are getting cheaper every day, but not to the point where it always makes sense to create second-to-second backups. You might be able to save some money by scaling back to daily or even weekly backups.
To do this, your BDR plan needs to contain a Recovery Point Objective (RPO). Measured in hours, your RPO will govern how recent your backups must be to avoid staggering losses. Could you survive losing all your data created in the past four hours? What about the past 48 hours? These business continuity needs should be clearly define and regularly updated.

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Rule #6: Your plan is good to go when it has an RTO
Even if our imaginary mom-and-pop shop could justify creating backups in real time, that isn’t the only objective that needs to be defined for a BDR plan to succeed. Business owners also need to define how much time it takes to restore data, regardless of how recent their backups are.
Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) will be how much downtime you can handle, which means RTO is placed on the right hand side of the disaster timeline. This is where personalized IT support really shines. By creating our clients a backup plan from scratch, we ensure RTOs are measured in minutes and downtime is always within our clients’ tolerances.

Rule #7: Your plan is good to go when it has an RTO
Backup software vendor StorageCraft released a survey that says 33% of businesses with a BDR plan were still unprepared to handle a disaster. That’s because the vast majority of small businesses create a plan, but never update or stress-test it. Even annual reviews of your plan may not be enough. Just think of all the front-page stories about ransomware attacks written in the past 12 months. Testing a BDR plan is too technical and difficult for IT amateurs, which means regular checkups and reports from a professional are an absolute necessity in any managed BDR plan.

To get started on creating the best BDR plan for your organization, schedule a call with our team today: Request A 10-Minute call | Sundog (


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