How Secure is Your Business? 3 Disaster Recovery Tips

Most of us have experienced a disaster at some point in our lives. From live-wreaking devastating tornadoes to the opposite end of the scale - losing an entire written article that's taken you hours to write because of a power cut.

But what have you done to protect yourself? What backup measures do you have in place to limit the disruption and damage?

 

1. Power Cut

In my previous business when we moved into our new 7000 Sq Ft warehouse I thought we had moved away from the problems of the old dilapidated office we had vacated. But as bad luck would have it, within a month we had a power-cut that meant our online business ground to a halt. No computers and no internet to process customers orders. Our burn rate was around £1000 a day, not to mention the longer term impact of customer cancellations due to delayed orders.

The solution in this case was to buy a generator, some lights and a very long extension lead. We created a plan in the event of future black outs, and we assigned important roles to different staff members, such as a team to set-up the generator, a team to run the power leads around the office, a team to set-up the lights and plugin the mission critical computers that would allow the business to continue functioning, albeit in a limited state. This plan worked perfectly and meant in a power-cut we could be back up and operational within 15 minutes.

The most ironic thing was, we never experienced another power cut in the proceeding three years we were there. But it felt good knowing we had a well oiled disaster recovery machine.

 

2. Fire

No business is immune from this devastating disaster and there are a number of on-going measures that can be done to mitigate against this risk.

As this document focuses on the recovery of such an event, it's still worth listing a few bullet points of actions to consider when safe guarding your business.

  • Annually test your electrical appliances using a qualified P.A.T testing company.
  • Ensure you have the correct types and numbers of fire extinguishes and that you have staff trained to use them.
  • Review the storage of dangerous and hazardous materials, is the policy still relevant and is employee training up to date.
  • Do you have a gas central heating system, is it annually maintained, do you have any carbon monoxide and smoke alarms installed.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to experience a fire at your business, what is your plan for business continuity?

If you operate a factory full of machinery, are there other similar businesses (that don't compete with you) that you can strike an arrangement with, where they will pick up production over a temporary period of time? Greggs the bakers who are makers of the local famous sausage roll are a great example of this; after a fire that rendered their factory unusable, they quickly struck a deal with another factory to continue production on a temporary basis, and within 4 weeks their factory was operational again, and their customers were oblivious to the disaster that had occurred.

Picture this nightmare scenario... You're standing on the other side of the road with your head in your hands looking at a enormous fire that's ripping the very heart out of your office building, and all of the computers your 30 employees rely on are now wiped out, completely gone, up-in-smoke, pffffft. You didn't take regular data backups and worse you hadn't gotten round to digitising your important paperwork. As well as a possible two month wait until the office is fully repaired and back to normal, you have no clue as to what to do with your thirty employees and how to get them back to work. What on earth is going to happen to the 300 telephone sales calls you receive everyday? The only comfort you can take, is that you're fully insured and you recently updated your policy with the increase in value of office equipment, staff numbers and turnover.

What an absolute nightmare of a scenario that could happen to any of us. But the most important question is, have you planned and are you prepared?

Using this example, here are some considerations:

 

  • Contact a disaster recovery specialist; one such local organisation Onyx has some in-depth information available on their website explaining the process more in-depth: https://onyx.net/services/workplace-recovery The idea is, if you operate a call centre or even a ten person office, in the event of disaster, your operations can be swiftly switched to a local disaster recovery centre where you redirect your telephone number; and the specialist software your computer needs can be replicated to 100's of computers in a matter of minutes.
  • Do you currently backup your employees data? And how often? There are numerous online 'cloud' backup solutions and a quick search online will list them all, but the important thing is staff education. Sometimes backups fail or aren't validated so putting a policy in place to ensure backups are checked often will help you keep on top of potential problems.
  • Do you have a filing cabinet full of important documents, such as insurance certificates, land deeds, business contracts, company share certificates, employee HR files, drawings and renders etc... do you have them saved electronically and backed up online?
  • My preference for a start-up business is to always have a spare computer to hand and kept off-site, with all of the same software installed that you need, kept alongside a mobile internet dongle, so in the worst case of fire, damage or theft, you have a backup sitting there ready to go immediately and you can work from any location.

 

3. No internet

Quite possibly the end of the world for some, and an inconvenience for many, but there are many businesses who solely rely on the internet in order to operate and would go out of business without it. One such company is my own, we currently help millions of people save money through a suite of money saving websites, mobile apps and social media pages. If the whole internet was turned off tomorrow I would be contemplating becoming a monk and learning to play chess.

Joking aside, there are often times when the internet goes off temporarily, events such as: power cuts; broadband routers breaking down; connectivity issues with internet providers, etc.

So what is your plan if this happens? How will you print off all of those internet ecommerce orders and fulfil them? Here are a few ideas and please add your own in the comments box below.

  • Consider installing two internet connections from two different internet service providers. At my previous business I had one internet connection from BT and one from XLN Telecom and I had a dual broadband router that allowed two internet connections. The advantage here is, if BT has problems with it's network and servers and the internet goes off, the dual broadband router then switches to the other working connection.
  • However, this doesn't help if one of the outside cables carrying the internet to your building is severed. Then you really are without the internet until the cable is repaired. This happened to me, and my solution was to purchase a few 3G big data usage internet dongles and connected them directly to the mission critical computers, allowing orders to be printed and processed.
  • Temporarily using your mobile phones internet connection and tethering the world wide web to a computer is another option, but be wary of data usage and how much you will be charged.

 

By thinking ahead and creating a disaster recovery plan, you can help to reduce the risk to your business should a disaster strike and being able to operate with no detrimental effect on your customers is a great way to ensure a good nights sleep.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.