Essential considerations for creating an effective backup and disaster recovery plan

Essential considerations for creating an effective backup and disaster recovery plan

Does your business have a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan? If you do have one, when was it last updated? Depending on the answer to either of these questions, your systems and data could be at serious risk. Lacking a BDR plan means you could lose all of your data after a single disastrous fire, flood, hardware failure, or cyberattack. In addition, failing to update your BDR plan could leave your systems vulnerable to new threats and put you at a disadvantage compared to your competitors.

In order to correct these vulnerabilities, you will need to create or update your BDR plan. Therefore, you will need to understand some essential considerations that constitute an effective BDR plan.

What does an effective backup and disaster recovery plan need?

An effective BDR plan should incorporate the following:

Risk assessment

All too often, business managers don’t prepare for certain kinds of disasters because they can’t imagine them befalling their company. Of course, this mindset does not prevent a disaster from occurring and only makes the situation worse. Start by performing a risk assessment that takes into account the likeliest threats to your operations. In addition, get an outside opinion if possible so you can prevent blind spots and better tailor your BDR plan.

Data prioritization

The more data and workflows you have to back up and recover, the more cumbersome your plan and the more points of failure. Fortunately, not all of your data is equally critical. By understanding what data is most important to your organization, you can categorize them by significance and relevance to your operations, helping you streamline your BDR plan without sacrificing effectiveness.

Clear objectives

After you’ve prioritized your data, you can set the main goals for your BDR plan, of which you should have two. These two goals are:

  • Recovery point objective (RPO): RPO defines which and how much data you need to recover to return to full operations, and at the same time, how much data you are able to lose.
  • Recovery time objective (RTO): RTO is how much time it takes to get your data and systems restored back to operational levels, i.e., how long you can afford your systems and data to be inaccessible.

Understanding these goals will help you focus on what’s important and streamline your BDR efforts.

An appropriate strategy

There are multiple ways to back up your systems, so you need to determine the right method for your business and its needs. For example, how often will you back up your data? Low-frequency backups (usually daily) are cost-effective and unobtrusive, but might miss key data if the disaster happens late in the day. In contrast, higher frequency backups are safer, but require more computing power and resources.

Furthermore, there are different types of backup methods to consider, including:

  • On-site: Using physical drives stored on premises, this method keeps your vital data close and gives you complete control over its security, but it requires more hardware and physical space.
  • Cloud/Off-site: By storing your backups on the cloud or with an off-site provider, you spare your business the financial burdens of investing and maintaining expensive hardware. However, this also entails entrusting your data security into the hands of a third party.
  • Hybrid: This method combines the strengths of both above methods, but also comes at the combined costs of both. That said, this method is often favored by businesses in industries such as healthcare and finance that have strict data storage regulations, as it enables them to store the most confidential data on site.

Data security

Cybersecurity and BDR go hand in hand, as the data you are backing up is valuable. Therefore, make sure you have tools in place to encrypt data both in transit and at rest. For cloud backups, carefully go over the provider’s security features, while for on-site backups, don’t neglect physical security. In addition, if you are beholden to compliance regulations, check those to see what they say about your BDR requirements.

Regular testing and training

It is vital to make BDR testing and employee training a key component of your plan. Your recovery process is only as good as the people carrying it out. For this reason, you should conduct regular tests and mock disasters, as well as classroom-style training courses. These measures will ensure that when you need to implement your recovery plan, you can do so without issue.

Want to learn more about designing and implementing a backup and disaster recovery plan? Contact Fidelis today.

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