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SMBs Have Some Thinking to Do About Disaster Recovery Planning

by on May 24, 2011


While we all know how important IT disaster recovery (DR) planning is, some of us still just aren’t doing it—not well enough, anyway. And, not to point the finger, but all too often it’s small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) who fall into this category. To wit: A January 2011 Symantec study revealed that of the 1,288 small and mid-sized businesses, 57 percent do not have a DR plan in place. Even more disturbing, this number represents an increase from last year’s survey.

The firms surveyed averaged six outages last year, mostly from natural disasters, power failures and cyber attacks. Outages are not just expensive—Symantec estimates $10,000 per day for SMBs—they can sink a business. Forty-four percent of customers of SMBs reported that their SMB vendors shut down temporarily after a disaster.

So what’s stopping SMBs from protecting their computer systems and data?

  • Not thinking about it
    The Symantec study showed that a whopping 41% of SMBs without a DR plan said they didn’t have one because “it had never occurred to them” to develop one.
  • Thinking about thinking about it
    The study further revealed that 40% did not view DR as a priority.
  • Wrong thinking
    Unbelievably, more than half of the respondents (52%) did not view their computer systems as business critical.

The Symantec study offers the following suggestions for SMBs:

  • Be proactive.
    A limited budget means you can’t plan for every disaster event that might strike, but it’s still essential to examine a wide range of potential events before they occur. Then, formulate a plan that identifies critical systems and data and maps out how to quickly get your systems up and running and retrieve key data.

  • Fully protect your mission-critical data.
    Implement the necessary security solutions to protect your information, as well as the appropriate backup solutions to archive that data on your network or an external hard drive, and in a secure off-site location. One solution many businesses are incorporating into their DR practices is media management software. When backup tapes are used to store corporate information, media management software can help track down these storage devices quickly.
  • Involve employees.
    When resources are limited, use employees as a first layer of defense in protecting customer and corporate data. Educate them on information security best practices and how to retrieve vital information in the event of a disaster or system outage.
  • Regularly revisit and test your plan.
    As your organization grows and changes, your plan will need to change. Re-examine your plan regularly to ensure that it is comprehensive, and test it often to ensure that it works. If resources prohibit frequent testing, review your plan at least quarterly to keep it current.

SMBs clearly lag behind their larger corporate brethren in safeguarding their systems and data and preparing for disaster. The consequences of this inaction can be expensive…or fatal to a business. An IT disaster recovery plan is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a best practice.

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