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Your worst nightmare

March 27, 2013

by Mark Pardee

What would you do if you walked in the door of your business tomorrow morning and all of your important business data was gone? Your accounts receivables, customer records, inventory records, new orders yes, all of it… GONE! How badly would it damage your business? Would your business even survive? That fact is, most business have become completely dependent on their technology and data. It truly would be your worst nightmare.

Do not let his happen to you

If you have not tested your disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) plan, then you do not have one. Most small to medium businesses have not even taken the time to write a plan let alone test it. Recently I talked with a technician who had experienced a disaster with a company he worked for. He had a well thought-out, written DR/BC plan but, it was not tested. When their datacenter caught fire and their equipment was destroyed, they activated their DR/BC plan. They used a tape backup solution and had over 60 tapes. While it took just two days to get new equipment and set it up, it took 4 days of reading tapes around the clock to find the catalog and restore it so the actual data restore could start. They had a total down time of nine days.  They also experienced the industry standard of about one third of the tapes being unreadable. Eventually, they did get all of their systems back on line and the business survived, but not without major losses.

What to budget

Small businesses should plan on spending about two percent of their total revenue on disaster recovery and business continuity planning. If your business generates $2 million in annual revenue, you should budget about $40 thousand per year. The DR/BC is a living document that needs regular attention to ensure its accuracy and relevance. We will address the details of a comprehensive DR/BC plan in a future article. For now, let’s discuss one component of the plan.

How to fix it

One of the most critical parts of the DR/BC plan is the backup and restore plan for your servers and data. When it comes to backing up your business data, there are two terms you need to understand. Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The first, RPO refers to the amount of data you can tolerate losing. Of course no one wants to lose any data however, few small businesses can afford the technology to have completely redundant systems to ensure 100 percent up time. Most companies still use a tape backup solution. If a full tape backup is performed each evening, the RPO can be 24 hours or more. This means that a complete day of work or more could be lost. The second term refers to the amount of time it will take to recover the data or how long your technology will be unavailable. Again, with a tape backup solution, the RTO can be two to 10 days or more to get everything recovered.

In the last five years, backup solutions have changed dramatically. Today’s backup solutions that backup to disk locally and replicate the data out to the cloud can provide a reliable and easily testable RPO of hours instead of days. Entire servers can be virtually booted in minutes and tested to verify that the backups are readable and validate recovery processes. The backup to disk locally allows for quick restore of single files that have become corrupted or have been accidentally deleted. The offsite copy ensures that the data will be available after a disaster and the RTO can be as little as two hours. Once a full server backup has been completed, small incremental backups can be taken every two hours without interrupting the company’s productivity.

These newer solutions can fit well within the budget parameters described above and because they are tested, will allow you to dream at night instead having nightmares.

Mark Pardee is Director of Managed Services for NuWave Technology Partners. He has more than 25 years of experience in the technology field and has been focused on Managed Services and Cloud computing for the last 10 years. E-mail Mark at or call (517) 913-9214.

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