Preventing data loss is essential to ensure that a business remains operational following a natural disaster, and taking steps to safeguard your IT infrastructure. For example, employees should be trained on the proper file management procedures. IT managers should ensure their servers have sufficient redundancies in place. They should consider cloud-based solutions for even greater protection.
The risk of data loss is greatly mitigated when these things are done properly. Putting these policies and systems in place helps to protect against natural disasters and ensure that systems and data are recovered as quickly and fully as possible.
Here are three best practices to prevent data loss due to natural disaster:
Engage With Your End Users
Businesses should try to develop and institute internal processes that help prevent against data loss following natural disasters. Setting clear SOP’s for how employees handle files is one of the most important. A couple different approaches can be effective:
One way is to train staff on the appropriate way to save and manage their files, ensuring that everything is stored on shared drives or servers that are continuously backed up. A more stringent approach involves limiting the ability of employees to store files locally. Permission restrictions can ensure that staff can only save files to drives that are backed up.
As a security policy, companies can also make it difficult for employees to save data locally on laptop, in order to avoid a stolen laptop data breach. To make sure strategies like this are working well, it’s smart to intermittently evaluate your team’s success is keeping all documents in a safe place through routine drive audits.
Another option is to have all employees use virtual machines that are run on the cloud and accessed through networking. As network speeds continue to increase, and as network connectivity expands (in-flight Wi-Fi, satellite-based internet access), virtual computing performance will continue to increase and eliminate the need for any local file storage. A result of this transition will be better data security. Until this point, companies have to balance employee convenience versus data protection.
Ensure Your Backups Are Geographically Dispersed
Many businesses rely on their own servers for backup, either on-premise or off-. In these cases, you should be sure to design a network of backups that offers sufficient redundancy. While maintaining multiple backup instances is a good starting point, the types of backups and their location are also important.
Many organizations that maintain their own data centers also use third party cloud-based solutions are a secondary backup. Those that do not are typically very large, technology aligned businesses with several data centers throughout the country or even the world. Having servers in diverse locations minimizes the risk of data loss due to natural disaster.
Since these events can affect very large regions, it’s not enough to simply have a secondary data center across town. A natural disaster can impact an area over hundreds of square miles. Therefore, it’s critical to maintain data center operations that are far apart, especially when it comes to the most sensitive data and services that ensures high availability.
A hybrid approach that combines company-owned on- or off-premise servers with a third party cloud-based solution can provide a fix for organizations that do not have this kind of location diversity for their own servers. Virtualized servers and backup solutions are often part of large network dependent on geographically diversified data center.
Disaster Recovery as a Service
The most effective way to avoid data loss is to rely on a Disaster-Recover-as-a-Service (DRaaS) platform. This simplifies much of backup and recovery process, saves money in the long run, and provides greater reliability. Businesses no longer need to worry about maintaining redundant data centers on their own, nor do they have to worry about the locations of these backups and how they may be affected by disaster. They can leverage the network and infrastructure of these DRaaS solutions in order to save money and have greater peace of mind.
As mentioned above, managing disaster recovery internally necessitates the deployment of one or more off-site data centers, which complicate overall IT operations. They require additional real estate, employees, and higher overall costs. They are also inefficient because there are only used rarely, in event of emergencies or tests that approximate these conditions.
DRaaS provides storage-related cost savings and allows businesses to backup their data more frequently with less administrative complexity. In the event of a natural disaster, they can help bring your data back online much faster than most in-house solutions. On top of this, DRaaS providers are experts in this area, and handle real world failovers frequently; they know this process well. In-house disaster recovery is unlikely to have this kind of experience; to reach a similar level of expertise requires significant training resources, careful planning, and experiencing multiple catastrophic events - a very expensive combination.
Many organizations do not have a robust disaster recovery plan, so it can be useful to engage with outside consultants to help audit your existing procedures and make recommendations around what DRaaS services might be most appropriate.
Avoiding Data Loss
To get to a point where you can weather natural disasters with limited or no effect on their IT operations, you should try to follow several best practices. In addition performing the requisite planning (LINK to IT Disaster Recovery Plan Guide), businesses should ensure employee processes support effective file backup, maintain company-owned servers in diverse locations, and ideally implement a DRaaS platform for cloud-based backup and recovery. Businesses that put these practices in place will be more likely to avoid costly outages and data loss that could harm their operations and reputation. By being prepared, companies gain a competitive advantage.