Build Your Small Business Disaster Plan

Build Your Small Business Disaster Plan

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A small business will lose $8,000 every hour a disaster takes them off line.

If you're like the more than half of all companies struck by a disaster — and the two-thirds without a disaster recovery plan in place — you can expect to be out of business within two years, according to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council's 2014 Annual Report.

Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here are six easy steps to building your own data disaster plan:

1. Ditch your day-to-day optimistic business attitude

Consider the most negative scenarios that could disable your business. Don't hope for the best. Instead prepare for the worst.

“You need to be willing to be very systematic about doing this and think scientifically as opposed to emotionally," says Leif Holtzman, Chief Operating Officer of TekDoc Solutions, a Boston-based IT services provider.

2. Calculate how much you're willing to spend

Overhead expenses will have to be paid regardless of whether your employees and your company is functional. But, inversely, time is money. Also, factor in opportunity costs lost because of no business. If an office of five attorneys, each of whom bills $500 an hour is not operational, the loss would be $2,500 per hour, Holtzman says.

“The shorter you are willing to be down, the more intensive and typically costly a particular solution will be," says TekDoc Solutions' Holtzman.

Don't shortchange your estimate. The more extreme and severe a disaster, the lower the likelihood, but, if it does hit, the higher the cost to your business, Holtzman says. “And, the more likely it is that your IT and technology will be impacted."

3. Work in details on how to access your data

Perhaps let employees copy their work to their own home computer or the ability to access the office computers remotely, says TekDoc Solutions' Holtzman. That automatically creates a back-up.

Then besides backups of data, you need backups of your hardware. So in your plans, think of duplicating your hardware, cable, software, wireless equipment — and connections.

“Information technology systems require hardware, software, data and connectivity," says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on its web site. “Without one component of the “system," the system may not run."

4. Do preventative maintenance, and plan for this

Tackle problems before they occur. Old hardware, that's badly maintained, can also create backdoors for hackers and other cyber criminals to enter. This goes for your primary equipment, as well as your back-ups including data, which should be stored as securely as originals, says DHS.

“If your computers and your work stations are all less than three years old and under warranty, great," says TekDoc Solutions' Holtzman. But if a server is older than five years, replace it, he says.

5. Test, test and test

Simulate a specific disaster and do a dry run. “Shut the server down with a planned fire drill," TekDoc Solutions' Holtzman says.

6. Consider bringing on expert help

There are a myriad number of companies that can create back-up plans for your company. In fact Gartner, Inc says that more than 30,000 were in place as of last year.

Ideally, look for a firm that specializes in — and understands how to handle — disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Asking for help is never a mistake. Failing your business and your customers? That can be the biggest mistake you'll ever make.

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