A couple of events last week have led me to think about backup – and more specifically about recovery.  It is easy to say “Yes, my machines are backed up” and even “Yes, I can recover files from the backup”. The real question is “If a disaster happened, could I recover?” with a secondary “How long?”.

Pick a disaster

With today’s interconnected world, the “disaster” may leave your carefully backed up laptop completely unscathed.  Your business may rely in an internet connection, a website, cloud applications as well as people, stock and manufacturing. An incident affecting any one of these may become a disaster if it affects your ability to trade.

In order to ensure that you are properly protected, you need to think about these questions:

  • What does your business do?
  • What could happen that would stop you doing it?
  • How long could I afford to be not doing it?
  • How likely is it to happen?

From this, you should be able work out where your priorities lie. You can then start looking at the details of what you would need to get back and how quickly.

An example

If your office goes up in flames
If your office goes up in flames, would your business survive? Make sure you have off -site backups that work.

You run an online shop selling posters designed and printed on a computer. The business areas are:

  • Design of posters.
  • Printing and despatch on receipt of an order.
  • (There are others but this is an article on business continuity!).

In this case, potential disasters could include:

  • The website not being available.
  • The loss or breakdown of the computer used to design the posters.
  • The loss or breakdown of the computer(s) used to manage orders, stock and finance.
  • Loss of printer.

These incidents could occur singly or together. For a micro-business a fire could do a pretty comprehensive job to everything except the website.

If this were to happen, there would be all sorts of repercussions and difficulties. One of the first would be to phone the insurance company (providing that you have the details still available?).  Assuming you manage to sort out a new hardware, your priorities for restoring would be:

  • Software and data for orders, stock and finance (so you are in control).
  • Files for posters currently on sale on the website (so you can print and despatch them).
  • Files and software for the design side (so you can go forward).

Thinking this way, it would suggest that you would be best to separate out your backup so that you can pull the essential material back quickly and then recover the large image files on a longer timescale.

In conclusion

Think about the information you are holding when you set up your backups. Some simple disaster planning will help you work out what to backup and where to store it.