IT Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategies for Small Businesses

Businesses of all types rely heavily on IT systems, so when your company’s main computer systems are down—whether due to natural or manmade disasters, theft, or other loss—you risk losing revenue, profit, clients, and opportunities.

After a disaster hits, hardware can be repaired or replaced, new servers brought online, and new office space rented . . . but what about your company’s data? Once data is lost, it’s gone forever.

IT Services For Business

How will your business continue to function during a disaster, and how will IT systems be restored when the crisis is over?

It is too late to plan for, or to implement, a backup for your business IT systems during or after a disaster, so preparation is essential. Luckily, there are many affordable business continuity and disaster recovery options available to small businesses today.

Cloud Computing, Virtualization, and Redundant Systems are Key

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  • Your disaster recovery strategy should include backing up and storing all critical data in a secure off-site location. Thankfully the days of relying on manually-intensive systems like tape backup are over! Using a Cloud-based file-level backup service is now common; however, they are not all the same. Some Cloud file backup services may be able to backup open files or databases, and they may not have the ability to restore your files in a timely fashion.
    • With off-site data storage, files can be retrieved from anywhere via the Internet in the event of a business disruption, system failure, or the loss of access to your place of business. Companies can restore IT systems when they reopen for business more easily.
  • Continue business operations with both on-premise and Cloud-based backup servers. Once reserved for enterprise-level companies, small and medium-sized businesses can now deploy affordable on-premise and Cloud backup solutions. A backup server at your office can take images of your production servers throughout the day, including the server’s entire operating system, software, and files. This data should can then be stored locally as well as uploaded to an off-site data center. There are a few different backup solutions that are affordable for small businesses, and it’s critical to understand their differences so you make the right choice for your business.
    • Your servers should be backed up automatically to a secure off-site data center – or two data centers if possible for redundancy.
    • Monitor the backup systems (along with your primary server) to ensure that the backups are functioning as they should, and if there is a problem you can take corrective action immediately.
    • Ensure you understand the backup vendor’s Time to Recovery (TTR) in the event your primary server goes down – this is the time it takes to startup the backup server and get your computers connected to it.
    • Plan out how you will get your employees connected to the backup server in the Cloud during an emergency (will you use employees’ home computers, spare laptops, or tablets/mobile devices?)
    • Regularly test restoring data or virtualizing the on-premise and Cloud backup servers to ensure they will work during an actual emergency.
  • Fail-over/redundant telephone and Internet access. We recommend that small businesses utilize two Internet lines from two different providers (ISP’s) so that if one goes down, you can fail over to the alternate line with little or no interruption. You can continue to use the Internet and phone, access your business records, and stay in touch with clients, vendors, and employees. This is not a big expense for businesses, especially as more telecom and IT services move to the cloud.
    • Have a written emergency protocol for employees. Make sure your staff knows what to do in an emergency situation. If your phone line will fail over to a cell number, an employee’s house line, or other phone number, everyone needs to know who will take those calls and how to handle them.
  • Fail-over system for email. E-mail is the standard for business communication. Regardless of the type of email provider you currently use (on-premise or Cloud-based), you should utilize a secondary “store and forward” email service that does exactly that: it will store all emails that come into your organization when your primary email server/service is unavailable, and forward them to your primary email server when it comes back online.
    • When your primary mail server/service is down, you can log into some “store and forward” email services from a web browser to view stored emails, compose new messages, and reply from your regular business email address. All emails will then be forwarded to your company’s primary service when it comes back on.

Don’t let a local outage stop your business cold. Maintain vital communications with staff, customers, vendors, and other parties; keep the sales channel open; and safeguard and restore your important business records and IT systems with the right disaster recovery and business continuity strategies.

Contact us at 973-227-5020 to discuss your specific needs or to learn more about the different DR/BC technologies available to you.

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