It’s every business owner’s worst nightmare. Your system crashes, your hard drive crashes, you’re the victim of a cybersecurity attack and all your files are encrypted – you’ve lost all of your data.
Now is the time you’re wishing you had a backup, right?
In fact, a backup isn’t the only thing you might need in this situation.
More and more businesses have taken the time to invest in disaster recovery plans with their IT providers because they’ve seen the devastation that can befall businesses that have chosen to forego them. In 2017, it was reported that 90% of businesses without a disaster recovery plan failed after a disaster.
Businesses easily fail after a disaster simply because they’re unprepared for the consequences – whether that be the increased downtime, loss of data or loss of profits. A single hour of downtime can cost a small business $2,000 or more; imagine how much a few days of recovery could add up to.
Let’s take a closer look at the difference between having backups and having a full disaster recovery plan and how to get started on creating your own plan for your business.
Backups vs Disaster Recovery
Having a backup for your devices is a pretty common concept today, and it’s been made easier for us through devices like external backup drives and cloud storage.
But, simply having a backup of your data is not the most comprehensive way that you can prepare for a possible data mishap or cyber-attack.
A backup is mainly used as a way to immediately access any past data. If your backup files are stored on your computer’s drive or in the cloud, these are typically performed in the background of your daily operations once a day and essentially serve to copy the data that’s currently on your computer.
There are a few different types of backups that can be executed:
- Full backups encompass all of the data on your computer. This is the most complete style of backup and offers a full copy of your data if need be.
- Differential backups start with one full backup and then go back to record all of the changes that have been made since the previous full backup.
- Incremental backups are similar to differential backups, but they only copy the data that’s been changed since the previous backup – which is a more efficient use of space and takes less time.
- Mirror backups are what their name suggests – a total mirror to the original source. So, if you back up a file and then delete it on your computer afterward, it will be deleted in the backup. This can be a less successful form of saving your data, especially if it’s your only source of a backup and your computer crashes or is held for ransom by a cyberhacker.
Backups are certainly important to have in case of an emergency, but some situations may require more than simply restoring your data. That’s where disaster recovery comes in.
Disaster recovery plans encompass a whole strategy to help protect your business from major downfall or negative impacts from unexpected disasters. And while we’re mainly discussing technology-related disasters, such as cyberattacks or a dead hard drive, this also includes larger, environmental disasters. For example, tornadoes, earthquakes or even bad rainstorms can affect your company’s power and technological devices and therefore, the safety of your backups.
These recovery plans go beyond backups and help ensure that you’ll be able to recover from unforeseeable events that hurt your business. They include actions such as:
- Detailed instructions on backups and how to access them in case of an emergency
- A clear outline of roles and responsibilities during a tech-related or environmental disaster, and defining what third-party vendors or assistance will need to be contacted and when
- A data continuity system that lists what your business needs to continue to run, whether that means operationally or financially
- A detailed inventory of your technology assets, including everything from computers to printers to scanners to your wireless keyboards
- An updated list of passwords, login information and additional assets that may be stored locally on computers
- Service restoration plans that help give an idea of how long particular disasters could take you to get running once again
Of course, all disaster recovery plans won’t look the same. They work best when they’re customized for your business and your unique needs. That’s why it’s a good idea to work closely with your IT provider to get the best advice on what a successful disaster recovery plan would look like for your company, and what you need to do to establish one.