Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning 101

Let’s talk chili. Specifically, Texas chili.

If you’re a Texas native, you already know that “Texas chili” is an actual thing. If not, we’ll lay out the foundation for you.

First, and this is important, Texas chili does not include beans. Ever. And don’t try to get sneaky with the carbs. Pasta, rice and other variants are also against the rules. Typically, there aren’t even tomatoes in this Lone Star classic.

Texas chili is all about the beef—usually nice, big chunks of it spiced and simmered until they fall apart in your mouth. (Getting hungry yet?)

Knowing the basics.

If you plan to enter a Texas chili cook-off, you have to know this stuff. Show up with beans and tomatoes in your mix, and you’ve lost before the judges even take a sip.

What’s true for Texas chili is just as true for backup and disaster recovery (AKA, BDR). The basics matter.

This post will cover the most basic elements of a backup and disaster recovery plan. This isn’t what we consider to be ideal. That really requires an IT support partner. But if your SMB has absolutely no BDR strategy right now, this will get you started.

Why backup and disaster recovery matters.

Before we dig into the tips, a brief word about why backup and disaster recovery is so important. Consider this poignant (and scary) quote from Forbes:

Said another way, a disaster is anything that causes downtime.

When your network is down, you can’t maintain normal operations. Every minute (or hour or day) you spend scrambling to get back online is time and money out the door.

The backup and disaster recovery starter kit.

Got your attention? Good. Now, for those BDR basics.

Off-site Backups and Storage

During any kind of disaster, quick access to your data is key to minimizing downtime. Every company should maintain regularly scheduled, frequent backups for continuous data protection. That way, if anything goes wrong with the primary copy, you always have another.

While on-site backups are convenient, off-site backups provide the most protection.

A Documented Plan that Evolves with You

Nationwide reports that “. . . most small-business owners (68 percent) still don’t have a written disaster recovery plan.” That’s alarming. Without a written plan, disaster recovery is chaotic.

So take the time to write out a formal, prepared disaster recovery plan before you need it.

Document important things like the processes you’ll follow, contact information for internal and external contacts, and how you’ll handle customer communication. Define the things that keep your business running (data backup, computer equipment, email accessibility, etc.), and even give thought to how quickly you’ll need to resume normal business post-disaster to avoid substantial loss.

Then provide clear instructions to your team, and make sure someone has responsibility for executing the plan.

Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan

We recommend that you test your disaster recovery plan at least once a year. Here’s why.

A BDR plan can look amazing on paper, and end up being a miserable failure in practice. You don’t want to discover that key components are missing when you actually need the plan to work. It’s so much better to know beforehand.

After each annual test, make any needed updates so you’re ready if the worst should happen.

Taking things to the next level.

It’s time to get candid.

Often, small to mid-size businesses lack the technical personnel, budget or time to internally design and implement complete disaster recovery plans. This is sophisticated stuff, and a lot is riding on it.

CNBC reports that “40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster.” This could literally make or break your company.

Which is why we have one final piece of BDR advice. Don’t take a DIY approach with this. Call in the pros. Partner up with a managed services provider to ensure you’re truly ready for disasters of all kinds.

Naturally, we’d be happy to give you a hand, but even if you choose to work with one of our competitors, please talk to someone. When disaster strikes, it affects the whole community. We care about the Hill Country, and we want every SMB owner in our area to be prepared.

Now, did someone say something about a nice, big steaming pot of Texas chili . . . ?