When major disasters strike, institutions find out that disaster recovery is not just about how they back up data — but how quickly their planning returns them to normal.
As educational institutions become more dependent on their computer data, the cost of losing access to that information is measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The key to solving the problem is not completely technology based; an IT department needs a good disaster recovery plan for when the worst happens. A disaster recovery plan needs to cover cyber-attacks, hardware failures, user failure, sabotage and natural disasters. Many just back-up the data daily on drives and disks and send it off-site believing that it is secure. While a basic disaster recovery plan looks good on paper, it lacks a business process that covers what an IT department should do if something goes wrong and how that data can be restored to the business. It is not as if this plan is never going to be used; figures from Storage Sweden suggest that data needs to be restored about five to 10 percent of their backed up data on an annual basis. First, it will need to carry out a risk assessment and a business analysis to find out which part of the institution’s structure is critical and has the highest priority for the most resources. This forward planning will reveal previously unidentified technology problems, and allow for effective counter measure. This prevents the sort of problems, which blighted the recovery of the New Orleans Civil District Court’s computer system. The DRP plan called for older data to be purged to save space, which meant that back-ups were not actually being completed. Finally, it is recommended that IT departments organize disaster drills similar to those carried out by civil defense organizations in earthquake zones, such as San Francisco.
While this sounds gloomy, when people are ready for the worst, it is more likely that when disaster strikes, the IT department can fix the problem quickly. In my last article, “Where Recovery Begins,” I discussed the importance of prioritizing your critical data. Backup options: Company data should be securely backed up offsite and available for recovery at any time. Dress rehearsal: Practice a recovery process every few months to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Check the location of your critical data: Make sure you know where the critical data is stored at your company. Assume that your normal methods of communication during a disaster or emergency will not be functioning. It is imperative that your employees know where to go and what to do if your office or computers are down.
Designate and prepare for alternative working sites and suggest remote work facilities for a temporary period. Distribute the plan to all employees and upload a copy where it can be accessed by everyone. Put a copy of the plan somewhere that won’t be affected by data failure or office evacuation.

Jennifer Walzer is the CEO and Founder of BUMI, an online backup and recovery provider that serves over 500 businesses. Contracting with hotels is a much more complex process than people may think, especially when it’s on a contingency basis.
And, Jennifer, thanks for sharing your thoughts on DR and getting the conversation rolling. Founded in 2003, Small Business Trends is an award-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them.
Together with hundreds of expert contributors, Small Business Trends brings you the news, advice and resources you need. As networking bandwidth improved this basic back-up plan included wiring the data to a specialist software vendor who has data center sites in other regions. While that might not sound like much, it is the equivalent of 18- 36 days of a business year recovering from some disaster or another. The standard says that any plan should define a response to an incident and lay out an action plan. For example, one of the biggest issues is that backup software is unreliable or misconfigured. According to The Times-Picayune newspaper, in 2010 the software responsible for the court’s backups started garbling back-up data. This was not noticed until the servers containing all of the conveyance and mortgage records crashed and the court needed to carry out an urgent restore. Arranging a drill soon after a disaster recovery plan is developed is vital, particularly if a company has recruited a new data backup provider. Not only will they have the backed up data, they will know that it works, and how to use it.
Senior Systems Advantage is modular, scalable, and customizable, enabling us to effectively meet the needs of both small and large institutions. Businesses need to determine what data they would need immediately to continue functioning after a disaster or loss of corporate data. A business can’t function going forward if they can’t retrieve their critical data after a disaster.
An excellent way to do this is via online backup whereby a company’s data is backed up each night and stored far away from the company’s location. If people store their data on their desktops instead of the file server, make sure all desktops are backed up. These services allow you to forward office lines or even create virtual lines that can be accessed from anywhere. That process will show you where you’re backup is insufficient and the difficulty of the process may lead you to consider a more robust solution (with tech support).
I love DropBox as a storage method as it gives everyone in your office access to shared information and also backs everything up in case of emergency.
Boot up Order, Server dependencies, Vendor Contact information and everything else you would need to Rebuild your IT infrastructure in a Disaster Recovery Scenario?

More recently cloud-based offerings from the likes of EMC, HP, Oracle, Amazon and Microsoft have also helped make such back-ups more reliable and affordable. That means that up to 304 man-hours can be allocated every year to disaster recovery and the added workload could push back other IT projects and deployments.
This plan should be so detailed and everyone is trained to know what to do at the right time. Most experts believe that a good disaster recovery back-up plan should include some form of automation and testing to eliminate such errors.
This enables an institution to see clearly how data will be returned and what steps are needed to make it usable.
Once the business defines the significance of all of their data, they can begin to develop their disaster recovery plan. Most people don’t think it will happen to them, but all it takes is one small instance to ruin a company. A properly structured plan is comprised of three components: data, communication, and people. The best protection against such a scenario is a well thought-out plan that’s been tested and communicated to everyone. Creating quality DR documentation is one of those things that is easy to overlook, but one of the most important things in any business. If our phones went down, we would be able to immediately forward our calls to Grasshoppers 800 number which would then forward our calls to our personal cell numbers.
Now-a-Days, Data is priceless – and every moment the systems are down it will most likely end up costing the company shit-loads of money. Performing poorly in a DR Scenario due to poor documentation, testing, or planning could very easily cost you your job.
If you have done a bit of research already trying to find a comprehensive DR Plan Template you probably have already discovered that there isn’t a really good free option available. When I started creating my own guides – I actually went through the restore process as I documented it. While the same thing can be accomplished in a simple Excel document – I encourage you to improve your own documentation whenever possible. Documenting your Backup procedures will allow you to accomplish 2 very important things.It will afford you the chance to go through each Server, DB, VM, etc. If you feel there is something missing from the list, I encourage you to share in the comments below ??  0 Subscribe to our mailing list Signing you up! I’m glad I was able to help in documenting your DR process – I know first hand how daunting that task can be Fanus Swanepoel Hi There Ryan, thank you for the info, I would like to read more on the DR Procedure Guides section but the link seems to be broken, can you please let us know if the info is still available?

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