If your data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days—or even weeks—due to data loss or corruption, then you need to be prepared. A disaster can happen at any time on any day. If you aren’t already prepared, you run the risk of the disaster coming before you have a disaster recovery plan in place.

Here we’ll outline 10 things you can do to make sure your business gets back up and running quickly in the event of a disaster.

1. Prepare a Written Disaster Recovery Plan

As simple as it may sound, thinking through what needs to happen if your server has a meltdown or a natural disaster wipes out your office will go a long way in getting your data back fast.

At a minimum, the plan should contain details on what disaster could happen and a step-by-step process of what to do, who should do it, and how it should be done. Also include contact information for various providers, plus username and password information for various key websites.

Writing this plan will also allow you to think about a budget for backup, maintenance, and disaster recovery. If you can’t afford to have your network down for more than a few hours, then you need a plan that can get you back to normal within that time frame. You may want the ability to virtualize your server, allowing your office to run off of the virtualized server while the real server is repaired. If you can afford to be down for a couple of days, there are cheaper solutions.

Once written, print out several copies of your plan and store them in a fireproof safe, offsite (at your home), and with your IT consultant or staff.

2. Hire a Trusted Professional to Help You

Trying to recover your data after a disaster without professional help is a huge business risk. One misstep during the recovery process can result in forever losing your data or weeks of downtime.

Make sure you work with someone who has experience in both setting up business contingency plans (so you have a good framework from which you can restore your network) and experience in data recovery. At Techinc, one of our specialities is data backup and recovery. We can put systems in place to prevent data loss in the first place and to recover data if it has been lost.

3. Establish a Communications Plan

If something happens and employees can’t access your office, email, or the phones, how should they communicate with you? Make sure your plan includes this information, including multiple communications methods.

4. Automate Your Backups

If your data backup system depends on a human being doing something, it’s flawed. The number-one cause of data loss is human error. People may not swap out tapes properly or set up the backup to run properly, for example.

Always automate your backups so they run like clockwork.

5. Set Up an Offsite Backup of Your Data

Always maintain a recent copy of your data offsite on a different server or on a storage device. Onsite backups are good, but they won’t help you if they get stolen, flooded, burned, or hacked along with your server.

6. Have Remote Access to Your Network

Not only will remote access allow you and your staff to keep working if you can’t go into your office, but you’ll love the convenience it offers. Plus, your IT staff or an IT consultant like Techinc can access your network remotely in the event of an emergency or for routine maintenance.

7. Image Your Server

Having a copy of your data offsite is good, but keep in mind that all that information has to be restored someplace to be of any use. If you don’t have all the software disks and licenses, it could take days to reinstate your applications (e.g., Microsoft Office, your database, accounting software, etc.) even though your data may be readily available.

Imaging your server is similar to making an exact replica. That replica can then be directly copied to another server, saving an enormous amount of time and money when getting your network back. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about losing your preferences, configurations, or favorites.

8. Put Together Network Documentation

Network documentation is simply a blueprint of the software, data, systems, and hardware you have in your company’s network. Your IT manager or IT services provider should put this together for you.

Network documentation makes the job of restoring your network faster, easier, and cheaper. It also speeds up the process of everyday repairs on your network since technicians don’t have to spend time figuring out where things are located and how they are configured.

Should disaster strike, you’ll also have documentation of exactly what you lost for insurance claims. Again, have your IT professional document this and keep a printed copy with your disaster recovery plan.

9. Maintain Your System to Prevent the Need for Disaster Recovery

One of the most important ways to avoid disaster is by maintaining the security of your network. While fires, floods, theft, and natural disasters are certainly a threat, you are much more likely to experience downtime and data loss due to a virus, worm, or hacker attack. That’s why it’s critical to keep your network patched and updated.

Additionally, monitor hardware for deterioration and software for corruption. This is another overlooked threat that can wipe you out. Make sure you replace or repair aging software or hardware to avoid this problem.

10. Test, Test, Test!

A study conducted in 2018 by Spiceworks found that 29% of companies test their disaster recovery plan just once a year while 23% never test. If you are going to go through the trouble of setting up a plan, then hire an IT pro to run a test once a month to make sure your backups are working and your system is secure.

After all, the worst time to test your parachute is after you’ve jumped out of the plane.

Techinc Helps You Prepare for Disasters

Disaster can strike at any time, so you need an IT partner who has your back at all times. That’s what Techinc is all about.

We always strive to put systems in place that will prevent disasters from happening, but we can help you get through an unpredictable disaster, too. Our clients have access to us after hours for emergencies, so you’ll never have to wonder if we’ll pick up the phone when you need us most.

If you need help putting together a disaster recovery plan, just let us know. We look forward to helping your business prepare for the future.