Eight critical disaster recovery questions to ask your business

Disaster preparedness begins with a thorough and realistic assessment of your current backup and disaster recovery plan and capabilities. The answers to these eight questions will help you determine the needs of your organization.

  1. Do you have a disaster recovery plan to deal with an unplanned interruption? As the saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Without a plan, your business is vulnerable. Remember, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” disaster will strike. The better prepared you are, the less likely a disaster will result in the end of your business.
  2. What is your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or what is your tolerance for downtime? It is crucial to define realistic goals and to have reasonable expectations about recovery time. If systems are down for a week, is that acceptable? Or, canyour organization only afford one hour of downtime before it becomes critical for operations to resume? Planning a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) begins with determining a timeframe, then seeking a solution that fits.
  3. Have you calculated the cost of downtime to your company? If your computer systems are down or unavailable for an hour, a day, or a week, what would that mean financially to your business? In order to fully grasp the impact of a disaster on your organization, you must realistically calculate the cost of downtime. In doing so, you will be able to accurately determine the investment that should be made for the implementation of a disaster recovery solution.
  4. How would significant downtime impact your company’s customers and the reputation of your business? If your customers cannot access you online, will they go elsewhere? Think about your own experiences as a consumer. How loyal are you to brands? If a website is down, do you wait or do you make your purchase somewhere else? And if you purchase somewhere else, what are the chances that you’ll permanently switch your loyalty to a new brand? What’s more, lengthy downtime can affect your reputation for reliability.
  5. Are your company’s critical data and applications accessible if disaster should strike? When you’re developing a plan of action for disaster recovery, you need to factor in a way and means for accessing critical data and applications while your systems are down. Operating without a “plan B” for business continuity, will leave your organization vulnerable to lengthy downtime, system glitches or scenarios in which your recovery is not as speedy as you’d anticipated.
  6. Does your company’s recovery plan comply with industry or government requirements? If your organization operates within an industry that maintains strict compliance standards, you must determine if your disaster recovery strategy is going to help you maintain compliance, or put you at risk for falling out of compliance, thus leaving you open to disciplinary action.
  7. If you do have a plan in place to deal with an extreme event, is the recovery time expectation realistic? The only way to arrive at a realistic expectation of recovery time is to test your current plan. Testing will reveal any gaps, glitches or issues, allowing your organization to pinpoint problems and make adjustments.
  8. How often do you test your company’s recovery plan? If you’re not testing you should be. If you are testing, you should be doing so at least once a year and more frequently, if possible. The time to discover your disaster recovery system isn’t working is before the disaster strikes, not after.