With a strong hurricane bearing down on the east coast, people are preparing for disaster and putting plans in place to make sure they’re ready. Businesses also need to take action to prepare, and they have to have a disaster recovery plan in place to avoid critical downtime. This article from our partners at Matrix lays out details needed for every DR plan.

Hurricane season is no laughing matter for coastal regions. High winds and flooding knock out utilities and infrastructure, causing widespread outages. Many companies fail to plan for this type of catastrophe, which can lead to an even greater crisis — going out of business. Creating a well-rounded disaster recovery (DR) plan helps avoid the confusion and chaos that accompanies an emergency, reducing the duration of interruption.

Backup Sites

Two critical factors in a DR plan are data backups and redundancy. In the event that one location goes down, ideally a second (redundant) location would take over service with little or no delay. It is critical that the primary and mirror sites be located in different geographical regions, as it would be minimally helpful for the secondary location to be in the same city or county during a hurricane or regional emergency. Use different states and parts of the country for replication for the best outcome. Having a regular backup schedule will protect against data loss if service is interrupted. In preparation for hurricane season, the frequency of the backup schedule must be increased.

Constructing the Plan

When creating a DR plan, be as detailed as possible. Include extensive network architecture diagrams, illustrating which servers each application or data set resides upon. Which applications or systems are dependent upon one another? List each asset used by the organization and indicate those essential to ongoing operations. Prioritize each so that continuity tasks are completed in a logical order. For example, the expense reimbursement system can probably wait for attention until after revenue-earning and communication systems have been restored. Each system and department should have a documented set of recovery steps, list of crucial contacts (vendors, customers, and employees), and alternate method of communication for workers.

Update and Test the Plan

Constructing a plan and stowing it in a drawer does not help in the event of an actual emergency. A DR plan created even 12 months ago may be outdated. Review the plan every three to six months for changes and update accordingly. After updating, execute a test of the plan. Testing every six months will help employees become fluent with the process, find gaps in the checklist, and aid the speed of recovery after an actual event.

Cloud DR

For the sake of accessibility, many organizations have moved their DR program to the cloud. This makes a potentially difficult and expensive process easier to implement and more affordable. Cloud data and applications can be replicated quite easily, making the backup efforts far less challenging. Any applications that could potentially operate in the cloud should be considered as part of a cloud DR strategy, but be sure to consider traditional and legacy software as well.

Using Managed Services

Managed DR providers focus on getting companies back up and running quickly, and they do it well. These teams will help handle the variety of tasks required during a hurricane and ensure that each of the backup sites is performing properly. Most vendors charge a small monthly fee for what could be an invaluable service in a crisis.

Construction, testing, and effective execution of a quality DR plan is the difference between reopening a company’s doors quickly or closing them for good.