Top five small business disaster recovery tips of 2010

Disaster recovery planning can be challenging for small businesses. Start your new year off right and read our top five small business disaster recovery tips.

It's no longer an option for businesses to be without an up-to-date, workable disaster recovery (DR) plan. Your DR plan is critical to keeping your company's data safe in the event of an emergency, whether it's a natural disaster like a hurricane or flood, or a man-made disaster. Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often have less manpower and less technical expertise than larger enterprises, which often makes small business disaster recovery more of a challenge.

But according to "Symantec's 2010 State of the Data Center" report, midsized businesses are the "vanguards of the data center, leading in new technology adoption," perhaps because their IT organizations are less complex, making it easier for them to adapt to change and integrate new technologies.

But there's room for improvement. Although 80% of IT managers were confident in their DR plans, the survey found that the typical enterprise experienced two events in the past 12 months that caused downtime. The leading causes of downtime were system failure, application failure and natural disasters.

To help you start the new year off on the right foot, we've gathered our top five tips on disaster recovery for small businesses. Download our free businesses continuity template, learn about how to conduct a risk assessment, learn about the role of virtualization in disaster recovery, and more in this tips collection.

TIP #1-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sample business continuity template
For SMBs, the business continuity planning process contains several steps. These include: project initiation, risk assessment, business impact assessment, strategy development, business continuity plan development, business continuity plan testing and maintenance, emergency communications, awareness and training, and coordination with public authorities. This is comparable to the business continuity process found in larger organizations except for the fact that for SMBs, the business continuity planning process can be simplified, depending on the size and complexity of the organization. But creating your first business continuity plan can be daunting. We've created a sample template to help create your business continuity plan. Click here to download our sample business continuity template.

TIP #2-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Small business disaster recovery planning strategies
Despite the costs and risks of operating without a disaster recovery strategy, many small businesses are not prepared to cope with the stresses of a disruptive outage, let alone a full-fledged disaster. Based on a Taneja Group survey of hundreds of IT managers conducted in mid-2009, more than one-half of SMBs based in North America do not have a disaster recovery plan in place. Unfortunately, roughly one-quarter of the SMBs responding to the survey have suffered a significant outage in their IT infrastructures during the past three years. To make sure you're ready for any disaster, it's important to have the right DR strategy. Click here to read this guide on creating a disaster recovery strategy.

TIP #3-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Choosing a disaster recovery consultant
Many small businesses often seek outside help when devising a disaster recovery plan. But how do you know if you're getting your money's worth when hiring a disaster recovery consultant? What do you look for in a good consultant? What services will they actually be performing? To get answers to these and other questions, click here to read this article on choosing a disaster recovery consultant.

TIP #4-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Risk assessment and disaster recovery planning
A risk assessment is a critical part of your disaster recovery plan. The Disaster Recovery Institute International says the purpose of a risk assessment is "to determine events, probabilities and environmental surroundings that can adversely affect the organization and its facilities with disruption and disaster and the controls needed to prevent or minimize the effects of potential loss." In this article, learn about what should be included in a risk assessment, risk assessments and disaster recovery sites, and how often you need to review your risk assessment plan. Click here to read this guide on business risk assessments in disaster recovery planning.

TIP #5-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Virtualization and disaster recovery planning
If you are considering or starting to implement virtual servers into your IT environment, you should be aware of the differences between virtualization and physical-server environment disaster recovery planning, preparation and testing. The differences between virtualization disaster recovery and physical-server disaster recovery revolve around backing up and recovering virtual machines (VMs) as opposed to physical servers. While many well-known software vendors offer backup solutions, some technologies can degrade virtualization efficiencies. It's important to know how to choose the best virtualization solution for and how it will impact your DR planning efforts. Click here to read our tutorial about virtualization and disaster recovery planning.

This was first published in December 2010

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