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Computer Disaster Recovery

Manage Unexpected Events Before They Occur

Computer Disaster Recovery is sometimes overlooked for software and database systems - until it is too late. Have you ever thought how your business would function if the computer systems and software vanished - it happens to someone every day.  Here are some questions to think about when planning for next flood, hurricane, tornado or other catastrophe - large or small.



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Computer Disaster Recovery Issues to Keep in Mind:

  • Do you back up the software and databases on a regular basis?

  • Do you copy the database or spreadsheet to the same place every time, over writing the previous copy?

  • Do you keep a copy offsite?

  • How much information are you willing to re-enter if you can figure out where you need to start?

  • Would you have access to the database or software if you couldn't get to the office?

  • Do you backup the software to a server which in turn is backed up by the computer department?

  • Do you know how long it will take the Information Technology department to retrieve a server backup?  In many cases it will takes days and in some cases weeks.

  • Have you tested the data backup to make sure it is a good copy of the software and not corrupted?

  • Do you store critical program passwords in a secure place known by officers of your company so that they can get to the program in the event that you are permanently unavailable?

  • Do you require several data entry stations to be running to keep up with your orders?

  • Is your software included in your company's business continuity plan?

The following are a few examples of what can happen to computer system...

Plan to Recover From These Information Technology Disaster Scenarios:

  • Nasty programming bug corrupts the data in your computer.

  • Virus contained on the last four-weeks' worth of software backups (do you have others?).

  • Fire / water damage / flood / theft / civil disobedience prevent access to the office.  Chemical spill prevents access to office.

  • Purposeful destruction of data / property by disgruntled employee.

  • Hard disk failure resulting in corrupted database.

  • Undetected failure of data storage resulting in unusable files

  • Defective back-up media

The procedures and expenses associated with an IT disaster plan should be relative to the value of the software and data to your business.  Try to do an analysis of the true value of the data and programs using software risk analysis.

The following is a list of simple procedures for smaller-sized less-critical databases:

Computer Disaster Recovery Planning Checklist for Small Systems:

  • First part of database disaster recovery is easy - backup database systems on a regular basis.

  • You should maintain a minimum of 3 consecutive copies before overwriting.

  • Consider doing a backup each day of the week and put Friday's backup offsite:

    1) Take a copy home

    2) Send to a website located in another city/state

    3) Regular courier to another corporate office

    4) Establish an offsite backup service with courier pickup (for more critical databases)
     

  • Retain Friday's backup for at least six months

  • Every six month retain the most recent backup for permanent offsite storage

  • Get the database into your corporate data backup system if this is available.

  • Save key passwords and a copy of documentation in a secure place known by corporate officers

  • Periodically test the backups and the disaster recovery procedure to assure that you can get the software up and running again in a timely fashion.

For larger more critical databases consider the following in your corporate disaster recovery planning.

Database Disaster Recovery Planning Checklist for Critical Systems

  • Develop a written business continuity plan.

  • Identify roles and responsibilities.

  • Identify backup personnel for each role.

  • Identify a backup location for the use of your database.

  • Consider having reciprocal office sharing agreements with a company in the next town.

  • Identify necessary computer hardware configuration and software in case it needs to be replaced.  For larger companies have POs already written and ready to go.

  • Do a walkthrough of your disaster recovery plan.

  • Practice a real activation of your DRP annually.

  • Store the plan and all necessary documentation offsite.

  • Consider hiring a disaster recovery planning consultant

Software Risk Assessment A methodology for discovering and managing risk in IT systems - additional resources for preventing and planning for disasters.





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