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How to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Florence

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Aftermath of Hurricane Hugo - Isle of Palms, SC
Aftermath of Hurricane Hugo - Isle of Palms, SC

How to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Florence

Although we can’t be sure which path Hurricane Florence will take, hurricane season is a natural time that business owners and managers tend to think about protecting their business and operations from impact due to hurricanes and resulting tornados.  It’s called disaster recovery planning and it isn’t too late to prepare your business for an unforeseen disaster due to Hurricane Florence.  Here are some resources and important points to consider when planning to protect your people and property including digital assets.  Please reach out to Millcore Computing if we can help you in the planning process or to quickly implement a disaster recovery plan.

Encourage Your Employees to Prepare Their Families and Homes

People are a business’ most important asset.  We spend more time with the people that we work with than anybody else.  They are our friends, and the relationships can be so strong that some consider their co-workers to be family.  If a business’ employees can recover quickly, the business can recover quickly.  Encourage your employees to prepare themselves by distributing the following guide from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD):  https://www.scemd.org/stay-informed/publications/hurricane-guide/

Have a Solid Backup Strategy

Although backup strategies should be carefully considered according to your business needs and how your systems and information are structured, one popular strategy is what we call the “3-2-1 backup strategy”.  It is a very simple but robust strategy that covers just about any disaster scenario that we can expect to prepare for.  Here are what the numbers mean:

3 – Have three copies of your important business information
2 – Two copies should be on different devices or media onsite
1 – One copy should be offsite

The first copy is normally your working copy – this is the copy that you would use in normal operations.  The second onsite copy is made on a different device, so that we ensure that we can recover quickly from most individual device failures or loss incidents with locally backed up data.  This gets you back up and running as quickly as possible.  The third offsite copy ensures that if some unfortunate accident - such as a fire, hurricane, or tornado - should destroy your office, that we can recover your data from an offsite data storage facility.

Know your RPO / RTO

Related to the backup strategy are two key figures in disaster recovery planning known as the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).  These two numbers should have been worked out through discussions between you and your IT consultant.  They should guide the disaster recovery system implementation at your business.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) describes the frequency to which backup restore points should be created.  All businesses collect information over time - orders, manufacturing data, processed data, project status updates, and received email - for example.  The RPO is chosen to represent the maximum amount of time that a business can tolerate the loss of this data.  It will be different for every business, and there may be different objectives for different systems and data.  One way to think about the RPO is to think about it in terms of how much time could go by before you wouldn’t be able to recreate the information from memory, because that is normally what has to be done – you will have to rebook orders, rewrite documents and presentations, or ask people that sent you information over email to resend it.  Depending on the size of your organization, this can get out of hand quickly.  This is why we normally recommend no more than a 4-hour RPO for most businesses over 5 employees, but we have the right technology to implement a 10 or 15 minute RPO if it makes sense for your business.

The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) describes the period of time that a business can tolerate downtime in order to restore systems and information to normal working order.  Naturally we want to be able to recover from a disaster as quickly as possible.  But it depends on the recovery scenario and the way a business’ backup strategy has been executed as to how quickly the steps can be carried out.  If you only have cloud-based file backups and you get hit with a ransomware attack on your server, you’re looking at what will likely be days to recover.  Can you afford to be down for a few days?  This is not an acceptable time frame for most businesses.

Consider a Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) Appliance

One of the things that many businesses underestimate is the downtime associated with rebuilding failed or destroyed systems.  It is easy to oversimplify and believe they are covered because they have their information backed up, but they didn’t consider what it takes to bring up the complete computing environment back up to operational status.  This is especially important for servers.  First you have to procure a replacement server, then install the operating system, then configure and provision services, install drivers and printers, then install applications, then recover your information, then go through the process of tweaking everything back to the way that it used to be so that everyone can work with the system the way that they are accustomed.  And do you even know where those install disks are for the specific version of that line-of-business application that you’re using?  Is it even available anymore?

A backup and disaster recovery (BDR) appliance is the latest technology in backups for businesses that want to keep business operations running smoothly in the event of a failure.  It combines full-system backups with a technology known as virtualization to be able to very quickly recover whole systems to operational status.  They can actually boot the latest full-system backup of your server environment and let you continue on operations while the system is being restored or replaced.  Imagine what would if the server in your office were to fail, and what you would do in the time it takes to get a new server back online and recovered.  With a BDR appliance, you can get your business operations back online immediately, and switch back to the original server once it is restored or replaced.

Get Managed

Business is business.  Your employees know what they are doing, and they know what is important – the customer and efficient operations.  So, it is only natural that time and time again, we find that IT systems that are managed part-time by the technically inclined person in the office tend to be neglected.  They have more important things to do.  It is a very common finding that they neglect making sure backups are occurring, and even less often make sure that they are restorable.  After all, backups are worthless if they can’t be restored, and it is very common to find that backups are not occurring the way that they should, or understood them to be occurring, or they don’t backup the information that they should, or that a backup hasn’t been taken in weeks.  This is why you need an IT professional to manage your systems and backups.  Millcore Computing is here to help - we have the technology, partnerships, and the know-how to properly implement a backup system that is best suitable for your business.  Get Intentional with your IT today.  Reach out to us for a free consultation to see how we can help secure your business, protect your data, and keep your operations running efficiently.

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