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Weathering the storm: Disaster Recovery Part 1

Weathering the storm: Disaster Recovery Part 1
In the first of a two-part blog, Holly explains how to keep your business up and running in a crisis

Britain is famous for its temperamental weather, as the recent extreme flooding and gale force winds have shown. Variable weather like this can bring a business to a halt if it doesn't have the correct solution, and the cost in lost revenue can be enormous (a recent report suggested that global economic losses due to extreme weather are now around $200 billion a year!)

There are two main things to consider when it comes to disaster recovery:

  1. How can you secure all of your data
  2. How can you ensure that your employees are able to continue working

With these in mind I thought I would take a look at a range of solutions that you can implement which will help to secure your business from even the most extreme conditions (meteor crash may not be included!)

There are plenty of areas to consider, so in this post I'm going to consider powerbackups and recovery.

Power

Power cuts are quite a common problem for a lot of businesses. As well as turning out lights and power, a power cut can also damage your server. How? If your server is not powered-down correctly, data can be corrupted and drives can be damaged.

There is a simple solution to this however; an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). This device is essentially a mains-powered battery which can continue providing power to the devices plugged into it during a short power cut. This will give you time to save any data and power down your server safely. An intelligent UPS device will power down your server automatically in the event of a longer outage. This can prevent the hardware issues and data corruption which can occur with an unclean shutdown. For a round up of the different features and versions of UPS available, check out Mike's post here.

If you really can't afford any downtime, it may be worth investing in an onsite generator. This is a more expensive option but can provide power to more devices over a longer period. Rather than just powering your server, you could also keep your PCs up and running, meaning that your business can continue operating in the event of a longer power outage. During the recent storms, some parts on the country were left without power for almost a week, and in cases like this a generator would easily pay for itself in saved revenue.

Backups

Backups are something that everyone should have in place, whether you are backing up your business-critical data or pictures of your Gran's birthday party. I'm also a true believer in the idea that you can never have too many backups. Copies can be stored on an external hardrive, CDs, the cloud or paper! In a business environment, I would recommend that you have a copy of the data in one central location e.g. the server. The server should then be backed up to a location onsite e.g. a NAS or a backup server. This device should then be backed to either a server in the cloud or a number of rotating drives which can be stored in a secure location offsite. This process provides protection from hardware failure, a disaster in the office, theft and data corruption. I would also recommend that backups are encrypted, especially if more than one user has access to the storage location.

Recovery

Backups are an essential part of any IT maintenance plan but when you need to use them there is often a question about where you are going to restore the data to. If you need to restore an earlier version of a file either from data corruption or accidental deletion, it is likely to be restored back to its original location. However, if you need to restore your data due to a server failure or theft, you will need an additional server to restore this data to. This could be a backup server which is kept on the premises, or if you have a virtual environment, this could be a server hosted in the cloud. The advantage of having a server in the cloud is that if the offices have been damaged due to flooding, fire etc. you will be able to set up your business in a hosted environment and continue working. The disadvantage with this is that you will need access to a reliable, fast internet connection to make this possible.

If you can implement at least some of the changes I have described your organisation will be much more secure. If you are worried that your organisation may be vulnerable, or if you would like to implement any of the above, give me a call on 0114 299 4050.

That's it for Part 1! Tune in next time where I'll be looking at emails, the cloud, remote access and internet connectivity.

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