The importance of a good disaster recovery plan…

Yesterday, a building in the Waldo neighbourhood of Kansas City burned to the ground. The building housed, among other things, a cafe, a bar, and a bridal shop.

By mid-afternoon, the owner of the bridal shop was on the phone to her customers that were getting married this weekend, as well as to designers in order to get replacement dresses overnighted so as not to impact the weddings taking place. She also said that they were buying new computers this weekend and would start up again soon in a yet-to-be-determined location.

In addition to the incredible level of customer service, it would appear that the owner of this shop had a DR plan in place and executed it. When the worst-case scenario actually happened, she knew exactly what needed to be done to continue operations. If she had good backups, she should have her computers up and running by monday. All she needs is some retail space and to replenish her inventory, and she’s back in business.

There are a few key points here:

  • Make sure you have recent and good backups, and that they’re stored somewhere safe. Having them sit next to your computer isn’t going to do you a lick of good if the building crashes down around it in a sea of flames.
  • Make sure your DR plan is kept current, that key staff know about it, and that a written copy of it is kept off-site. Periodic disaster recovery drills don’t hurt either.
  • If you deal primarily with customers, they need to be taken into consideration with DR planning. Taking care of them even when disaster strikes will pay off huge dividends in the long term.

What not to do:

  • Keep your backups onsite (or have one copy onsite and one offsite. The most current one should be the offsite copy). Note that fire safes are meant to keep paper documents safe. In a raging fire, the inside of a fire safe will hit 350 degrees. While it won’t cause the paper to burst into flame, your backup tapes/CD/DVD/whatever have long since melted into a puddle of plastic slag.
  • Hope that your backups work. Test them every now and then.

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