It’s a scene every business hopes to never see: the office walls sagging and blackened by soot, the ceiling collapsed, the floor covered in dark, stagnant water. And the network, servers, and data essential to running your business? Reduced to scrap metal in the blink of an eye.
The numbers are stark. To survive disaster and ensure a quick and affordable restoration, businesses need to have an IT recovery plan in place. Forty three percent of businesses that close after a natural disaster never reopen, and of those that do, more than 29 percent close within two years . Yet nearly half of all employers either don’t have a disaster recovery plan, or don’t know if they do . There’s no better time than now to start, so here are five things to keep in mind as you’re preparing for whatever comes your way.
1. Understand the threats
Creating an IT disaster recovery plan can be a lot less daunting than it might seem at first. For one thing, you don’t need to have contingency plans for every possible disaster scenario. Instead, focus on the threats most likely to affect your business. Local authorities should be able to help you understand where your vulnerabilities lie.
2. Prevention, detection, correction
A good recovery plan goes beyond telling you what to do after the event has occurred. It also helps you avoid risks in the first place, and respond as soon as possible when disaster strikes. For example, reliable hardware from services like HP Just Right IT (prevention), monitoring tools like HP Insight Control (detection), and offsite backup options (correction) all work together to help keep your IT resources safe.
3. Location, location, location
Understanding where your key data, systems, and backups are and how they interact is essential for creating an effective plan. And up-to-date contact information for key IT employees and vendor contacts will also help speed up your recovery efforts. If you’re not sure what types of backup are appropriate for your company, HP Simply StoreIT can offer both advice and scalable solutions.
4. Test the plan
Testing a recovery plan is about more than just going through the motions. It’s about uncovering—and fixing—problems you didn’t know you had. For example, while many companies backup their essential data, a third of them never test the backups to ensure that the recovery process actually works . An untested plan can lead to nasty surprises that could have been avoided.
5. Consider virtualization
Server virtualization has been a hot topic for some time now, but it’s rarely discussed in terms of its disaster recovery benefits. A full 71 percent of companies using server virtualization report improved disaster preparedness because of that deployment . With all the additional benefits, from simplicity to scalability, virtualization services like those available through HP ServeIT Solutions can be a great choice for many small businesses.
Planning for worst-case scenarios isn’t something that comes naturally to most people, but it’s well worth the effort. Natural disasters have affected more than 30 percent of all small businesses in the U.S. . Taking the time to prepare an IT disaster recovery plan can mean the difference between a fast and easy recovery, and weeks of service outages, lost business, and skyrocketing costs.
 The Library of Congress, Gulf Coast Back to Business Act of 2007,
 CareerBuilder, When Disaster Strikes, 2011
 GFI, Failed backups affect customer relations, business operations and brand reputation, 2013
 Symantec, Disaster Preparedness Survey, 2012
 NFIB, National Small Business Poll, 2004
used with permission from HP Technology at Work