Does your organization depend on your network IT support services for day-to-day operations? One quick way to answer this question is by asking, “If my network stops working, can my team keep working?”
When they can’t, the consequences of a network outage are frequently fourfold:
- Reduced productivity
- Lost revenue
- Irreparable data loss
- Dissatisfied customers
However, a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery platform can help mitigate the effects of a network outage and even restore normal operations sooner than you thought possible.
The term “disaster recovery program” is actually something of a misnomer. The word “recovery” suggests an action that happens after the fact. On the contrary, the key to a quality IT recovery program starts with what happens before disaster strikes.
IT support companies should adopt the Boy Scouts credo of, “Always be prepared.” In a professional recovery plan, there is clear documentation and direction for action before, during and after a debilitating occurrence.
This plan should be tested over and over so as to create clear and concise documentation of actions to be taken. Doing so will take the guess-work out of how to respond when disaster strikes, quickly and efficiently.
There are five basic areas to consider when building your disaster recovery program:
- Form a strong disaster recovery team
- Identify and document disaster threats
- Outline critical applications, documents and resources
- Document backup and off-site storage protocols
- Test, test and test the disaster recovery program
In a recent SpiceWorks study, 23% of businesses who have some form of a disaster recovery plan in place admit they never test that plan. As a result, 31% of the businesses surveyed admitted they lost between $10,000 and $100,000 during a 12-month period due to outages or hardware failure.
With testing, these olutages could have been either foreseen or acted on quicker to minimize the loss of revenue.
Let’s explore some things your company will need to know to erect strong backup strategies and protocols to protect your network at every level.
What You Need to Know About Data Backup Systems
When it comes to protecting your network with frequent data backups, the key is achieving the ideal balance between cost and results. In order to find that balance, here’s what you need to know:
The Importance of Redundancy
And to get the best results, you need to prioritize some level of redundancy. If you’re only storing one version of your data backups, you remain vulnerable to threats like ransomware and corrupted files.
“We always recommend that you store multiple backup images when possible,” asserts Chad Lauterbach, CEO of Be Structured, a Los Angeles based IT services agency. “We also strongly believe that even backups should be stored in at least two different locations.”
This theory goes back to the idea of being prepared and not assuming that a solitary backup will do the trick.
Onsite and Offsite Backups
On top of redundant backups, it’s important to utilize both onsite and offsite backup systems whenever possible.
Onsite backups make it easy to quickly restore files in the event of minor issues like data corruption or accidental deletion. However, when you store onsite backups on devices like external hard drives, they can be vulnerable to natural disasters, theft or hardware failure. Also, depending on the size of your network, they may not have the data storage capacity to accommodate your backup needs.
A redundant offsite backup system helps protect against the vulnerabilities of onsite backups. Offsite backups will still be there even if your onsite infrastructure is destroyed. They can’t be stolen, and data centers also utilize multiple servers to guard against hardware failure.
At the same time, however, offsite backups may not always be possible due to regulatory compliance requirements. That’s why it’s critical to implement a backup platform that balances both onsite and offsite backup systems.
Automated Backup Methods
Both onsite and offsite backup systems can be set up to automate the backup process. When you automate your backup platform, you significantly reduce the risk of human error. Relying on your team to follow through with regular backups can actually interfere with your data security measures: people forget, miscommunication occurs, specific files or folders can be missed, and data breaches become more likely.
By automating the process, you add an additional layer of protection to your data security measures. At the same time, your team can focus on more critical day-to-day tasks. Thus, you don’t have to worry about mistakes compromising data or files.
When you’re planning a data backup platform, you need concrete metrics to measure the effectiveness of your strategies. These metrics are called recovery objectives and are primarily measured in two different ways:
Recovery Time Objectives (RTO)
Your network’s recovery time objectives pinpoint the maximum allowable amount of time that a device, network or application can be down following a network outage. Generally, this timeframe is determined based on practicality as well as the length of time before serious repercussions begin to occur. For example, if your organization depends on your phone system to make sales, the RTO for your VoIP platform may be 15 to 30 minutes.
When we’re talking about data recovery, your RTO measures the maximum amount of time your disaster recovery plan can take to provide access to mission-critical business files and applications. That’s why your RTO needs to be at the forefront of your mind while planning and practicing data recovery strategies.
Recovery Point Objectives (RPO)
In short, a recovery point objective measures the frequency with which you need to back up files. When your network goes down, and you lose data, your RPO measures how long ago the last backup occurred. That means if your RPO is 8 hours, backups need to be set up to happen every 8 hours.
In the event of data loss, an RPO of 8 hours guarantees that your team will be able to recover files as they were at least 8 hours prior to the outage.
Los Angeles’ IT Support And Data Backup Experts
While you may have an in-house team that built a data backup and recovery plan from scratch. That’s a great start, but it never hurts to involve another set of eyes and brain power when it comes to the crucial needs of security and backup.
An outsourced IT services company like Be Structured in Los Angeles can consult for a quick review of your plan and where they might get even stronger. Think of it as getting a second doctor’s opinion for that swelling that won’t go away.
Just like backing up your data in multiple ways on multiple platforms, backing up your procedures with a quick consultation might save you time and money. In the event of an unforeseen disaster, you want all the protection and insurance you can get. Limiting downtime and loss of delicate data are the pillars of business continuity during a critical moment.
Again, be prepared.