No matter what industry your business happens to be involved in, the development and implementation of a well-designed data recovery plan is essential. This component of your operations is vital to ensuring the continuity of your company's data and information technology assets in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Furthermore, the time to draft a thorough data recovery plan is before something happens, when you can create procedures for the safe storage of data and assets that enable your company to continue accessing them after a disaster occurs.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with regard to the security of your company's information assets is to put the development of a recovery plan on your "to do" list and then fail to get it done. Anything can happen at any time, and when you are cleaning up the mess left behind when something unfortunate occurs, you still may not fully realize the potentially long-term effects that losing valuable data can have on any business, big or small.
A destructive event that can negatively impact your company's access to sensitive, valuable, or confidential data and business information does not always encompass a large-scale natural occurrence or man-made situation. It is true that events such as Hurricane Sandy and the attacks on the World Trade Center were both natural and man-made, respectively, but they were truly disastrous both in the size of the destruction they wrought and in the amount of information that was lost due to lack of planning and the implementation of data recovery plans.
The need for a data recovery plan is also necessary to protect your data in the event of equipment malfunctions or failures, and to provide a means for the continued operation of your business in the event of unwanted intrusions and malicious attacks against your company's information infrastructure.
Here are a few tips on developing a data recovery plan for your business that will aid you in ensuring the survival of your company's vital information when unexpected disasters occur:
- Establish a well-organized and easily accessible data retention program. Implementing a data recovery plan will be more effective if you data is efficiently organized.
- Avoid hanging on to data or information assets that are not valuable or for which retention is not mandatory. When earmarking data for inclusion in a recovery plan, make sure it is information that is absolutely necessary.
- Establish a schedule for periodic audits of your data retention and recovery plans and make sure the audits are completed properly (whether by internal personnel or an outside consultant).
- Appoint a data recovery coordinator and provide them with 100% transparency with regard to where information is stored within the company. This will enable them to better determine what needs to be placed where, how important something may be, and if any information has a higher priority with regard to accelerated recovery than other data.
- Determine suitable locations for off-site storage, whether it is a physical location that is protected against disasters and intrusions or a virtual location such as an online data vault. (Your vital information may consist of paper documents and files, which can be converted to electronic format or can be removed to a secure physical storage facility.)
- Enlist the support and participation of your management staff and team leaders, so that when a disaster occurs they can provide assistance with rapid deployment of your data recovery plan.
- Never rely on one method of securing important data and assets. The implementation of redundant systems may seem unnecessary but will prove worth their weight in gold when more than one system fails and you have to access your secondary or tertiary means of data recovery to continue your operations.
- Make sure your data recovery plan is flexible enough to expand along with your company, yet still remain manageable by your appointed data recovery coordinator.
The importance of a functional recovery plan cannot be stressed enough when it comes to protecting your valuable information and assets, and ensuring that you have access to those assets through alternative means when something unfortunate occurs. Just as you have business insurance to protect your physical property, you need to have "information insurance" to protect your virtual property in the form of your data recovery plan.
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