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5 Reasons Disaster Recovery Plans Fail

We are human. We take things for granted each and every day. From the water that pours out of our faucets each morning to the spark of the ignition that allows us to drive to work on time.  We don’t give it a second thought as we arrive at our desk, power up the computer and click the email icon.  ‘Did Peter send those last minute figures I need for my meeting today?‘ we think as we scroll through the incoming messages. We find that he did, thankfully, and we are on our way for the day, armed with the tools and information that we have become so dependent on in business today.  What happens, though, if pressing the button on the computer produces nothing? What if when our computers boot up, there is no network to connect to? No internet allowing us to receive our emails or access to our cloud drives? It is in this moment we fully realize the value a carefully thought-out Disaster Recovery plan.

For businesses without this Disaster Recovery plan, this disruption to business continuity results in a loss of revenue – or worse.  According to a study by AT&T, “of companies that had a major loss of data without a disaster recovery plan, 43% never re-open, 51% close within 2 years and only 6% survive long-term. Will this happen to you if you can’t access your email for an hour or so? Probably not.  However, if the disaster is more wide spread and affects how your business functions and services customers, you could be headed for trouble.

Since Disaster Recovery is such an important topic and has many “moving parts”, we will be covering this topic over a series of articles. Today, we will examine the top 5 reasons disaster recovery plans fail.

1. Fail to Take Disaster Recovery Seriously

You’ve heard about Disaster Recovery, but you are way too busy to deal with it. You have a business to run, for heaven’s sake! We get it. Day to day life can be very busy; adding a project like Disaster Recovery on top of what you do every day seems daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be. Disaster Recovery is a wide reaching project but it can be broken down into manageable tasks. In addition, by forming a Disaster Recovery team of both internal staff and trusted IT providers, you can be sure to your business has a safety net in place should the need arise.

2. Fail to Set Priorities

You have a Disaster Recovery plan, but you’ve spent more time on your router, than you have making sure the mission-critical files are included in your nightly backup. So, when the times comes, you can access the server, but there’s nothing there. One of the first goals of your Disaster Recovery team should be to identify mission-critical systems, programs & files. What components of your business network are absolutely imperative to keep your business functioning? Be sure to separate what you’d like to have compared to what you need to have to continue business operations. Then focus your priorities on those mission-critical components first.

3. Fail to Update the Disaster Recovery Plan regularly

Your Disaster Recovery Team carefully examined every aspect of your business operations  and put a solid plan into place –  3 years ago.  Technology changes faster than you can say, well, technology! From server operating systems to data communication infrastructure, the computer world is constantly evolving to be better and faster. What might have been a viable solution when you created your disaster recovery plan, might be obsolete now. So set a schedule to review your Disaster Recovery plan on a regular basis and make adjustments where necessary.

4. Fail to Understand Reliance on 3rd party Vendors

Time Warner Cable? What do we need them for? Computer networks can be very complex. We all have a reliance on 3rd party vendors, whether for business operations software, data communications or email and cloud drive access. It’s important that your Disaster Recovery team include a trusted IT professional that can see the broader picture of your network infrastructure. Often times, the IT professionals have trusted relationships with these 3rd party vendors and have solutions that will help your business in the most critical time of need.

5. Fail to Test the Disaster Recovery Plan

Our Disaster Recovery Plan is all typed up and I’ve even stored a hard copy offsite – we’re done! Not so fast. It may look good on paper, but will it actually work when you need it to? Testing the various components of the Disaster Recovery plan you’ve worked hard to create is very important.  What you may find during testing allows you to fine tune the “paper plan” and ensure you’re not left stranded when disaster strikes.

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Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Stay tuned! Now that we’ve outlined the common pitfalls of Disaster Recovery here, we will take a closer look at the best practices for disaster recovery planning in our next article. We will also be creating a Disaster Recovery Template that you can use to start creating a reliable disaster recovery plan.

While you’re waiting, be thinking about your computer systems over the next few weeks. Keep in mind that not all of the “disasters” are widespread natural disasters like tornadoes or back to back to back blizzards (remember last February?!). Your disaster recovery plan should include processes to protect localized business interruptions such as losing internet for 3 days because your ISP accidentally cut one of their fiber-optic cables or having a server crash in the middle of your business’ busiest time of the year.  Planning for these disruptions now could mean the difference between your business succeeding or failing. As Ben Franklin would say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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Mike Dorr, President

Mike began as a Burgess network engineer in 1998. He later spent 3 years as Five County Credit Union’s Director of IT before returning as an owner in 2006. He lives in Bath with his wife and children and is an active member of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

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