It does not take a natural disaster to create an IT emergency. At any time, your personal or workplace data or equipment can be lost due to a variety of occurrences. Here are 5 challenges and steps to creating your own Everyday Recovery Plan.
1. Physical damage – Dry rot, temperature fluctuations, power outages, fire, excess moisture, mold, vermin, even dust or animal hair can result data loss.
2. Security flaws – Your data may be stolen or lost due to a Trojan, worm or other malware, even with network security software in place.
3. Human error – People make mistakes, and critical files can be lost or altered due to erasure, over writing or failure to back up.
4. Theft or loss – A break-in at your home or business or accidental loss or destruction of a computer, smartphone or other device means the information on it is gone, too.
5. Backups fail – Automated backup software or systems may not be operating correctly, and could produce files that cannot be restored.
Many people think, “Oh, I have backups!” when asked about disaster recovery. But, backing up is not the same as a complete disaster recovery plan. When you back up your files, you have taken a FIRST step towards restoration but it is not the whole picture. What about the hardware and network environment, software installations and licenses create the environment where all those files come to life? Consider these 5 areas when building your Everyday Recovery Plan:
1. Whether it’s a smartphone or table, computer or server, pay attention to not only your hardware, but what’s on it – the operating system, any licensed products and software. Keep track of your receipts and licenses and keep copies of any keys in a safe place – and back up this information off site. Make a record of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) connection and email server settings, as well as any router and/or Wi-Fi broadcast information.
2. Invest in a network security suite for your computers, servers and devices, be sure to update them and renew subscriptions as necessary. There are free versions for these but for enterprise (business) use, it’s highly recommended to adopt a paid solution for the advantage of warranty and support.
3. Maintain copies of templates and teach others to do the same when creating and altering documents and accessing databases. If you are not sure, make a fresh copy, date it, and work from there – and in business, create an environment where support queries and reporting oddities, no matter how simple, are handled swiftly and courteously.
4. Keep receipts and documentation for all hardware in a safe place and back it up off site to ensure that you have all you need to rebuild. If you own a business consider a Software Asset Management solution or do this manually – keeping track of all programs, licenses, expirations of subscriptions and annual support agreements.
5. Periodically restore from your backup files as it is always possible that backup software can fail, even if there is no warning or indication of this. Redundancy is a plus; maintain more than one backup method. In case one fails for any reason, you’ll have another option.
Everyday Recovery Plan Resources
- StaySafeOnline.org – Free computer and mobile security tools
- Consumer.FTC.gov – Securing personal computers and devices
- Ready.gov IT – Disaster Recovery Plan
- ComputerWeekly.com – How to assess risk and define disaster recovery strategies
- ConsumerReports.org – Backup system buying guide
- BSA.org – Software Asset Management best practices from Business Software Alliance