How to Implement a Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery Plan for Any Size Business

In today’s business climate, information ranks among our most valuable resources. With the rise of big data and continuous improvements to computer and network capacities, companies are collecting and curating more data every day. But large amounts of data are difficult to manage in even the best of cases—consider how much more difficult such a task becomes in the face of a disaster or emergency.

To survive unexpected conditions, companies must create disaster recovery plans that can be employed during interruptions to normal operations. Far from pessimistic or exorbitant, a well-designed disaster recovery plan is essential for maintaining the integrity of the business and can minimize the effect an outage could inflict on the bottom line.

Preparing a business for potential disaster is not only important for large, multinational corporations; small businesses can be affected just as intensely. Fortunately, with the increase in flexible work arrangements across all types of companies, there are more affordable ways for small businesses to stay organized and functional during these times. As more companies turn to Internet-based technology and paperless record systems, information can easily move when necessary. This decreases the downtime companies face when operating under exceptional conditions.

For effective planning, specific scenarios must be considered to determine what the real consequences of a disruption could entail. For example, in case of a natural disaster:

+ How would disruption affect your facilities and physical assets?

+ Would temporary loss of a facility cause further financial damage by preventing employees from working?

+ Are there assets that could not be easily replaced, such as client files, records and other data necessary to the business?

+ Is sensitive information likely to be misplaced in an evacuation?

While these issues are difficult and sometimes uncomfortable to consider, an honest, thorough audit of potential weaknesses in your organization can help prevent worst-case scenarios.

Implementing a plan

An article published in Informationweek.com showed that 57 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have no recovery plan to address a network outage, data oss or unexpected disaster. This is unfortunate, because creating a disaster recovery plan doesn’t have to be an unwieldy task. Being prepared for a disaster, large or small, can make a significant difference for your company. Every day is important to the business, and even a few days of disruption can produce a negative outcome. Incorporating a disaster preparedness plan alongside existing company policies is an easy way to educate employees and prepare for a worst-case scenario.

An aggressive disaster recovery program may include an infrastructure update with virtualization and remote server backups, but most companies don’t have the resources to take on an extensive overhaul. The hassle of implementing a time-consuming and costly plan is a major deterrent, and as a result, many companies go without one. However, by simply taking an inventory of your current infrastructure, you’ll be able to see where you can afford to implement changes. The addition of a few critical software programs can prepare your business and reduce disruption in the event of a disaster.

Begin by looking at your infrastructure

Data Storage & Discovery What systems do you already have in place? One of the most important things to consider is where you store company data. Do you use local servers or individual employee computers? Where employees store data is important, not only for disaster recovery, but also for protecting the privacy of the company and its clients. Storing crucial data offsite is an important step to maintaining business continuity during an unexpected event.

While there are myriad options for offsite data storage, many small businesses use a cloud-based provider to secure data. Cloud storage protects company data by allowing employees access through a single entry point. In the event of a disaster, employees are able to log into a web portal from any computer with Internet access and retrieve files pertinent to running the business. A business-grade cloud storage solution like Citrix ShareFile ensures data integrity and security. The business remains protected in the event of disaster.

In addition to the question of where data is stored, be sure to check that you have readily available the data that will be most relevant in the case of an outage. You will want to have an up-to-date employee contact list with multiple ways to get in touch with each person.

Employee Devices

While it is typical to supply each employee with a computer, many companies have begun issuing laptops in place of, or in addition to, more traditional desktop computers. Fortunately, companies have begun adopting flexible work environments. Workshifting (working remotely at least one day per week) can benefit companies facing disaster; employees who are used to working away from the office will adapt more quickly to disruption.

Take an inventory of company devices if there is not already a record. For small companies, this may be as simple as asking everyone in the office which devices they use. If your office is larger or you have multiple locations, use an online survey for discovery. Once you obtain information, you will be able to better understand who could be most affected by a disaster. Make sure that key personnel have access to the devices they need. Employees may also use personal devices as necessary.

Meetings

Clients or other offices may not be affected in the same way as your own office, so it may be essential to continue business as usual. Like workshifting, if you already use a tool to meet virtually, your transition will be smoother. GoToMeeting offers businesses an easy way to conduct meetings from wherever you are, no matter the situation.

Whatever tool you use, make sure it can support both mobile devices and tablets for those who do not have access to a computer.

Eliminate the need for decision making

An emergency can quickly turn into pure chaos if a company has not properly prepared for that possibility. After finishing the inventory of company resources, identify critical functions like setting up communication to employees, clients and vendors, and submitting insurance claims. Decide who will be responsible for executing specific functions and who should serve as the main point of contact for the company. This important step will help limit decision making to only designated persons and reduce uncertainty during troubling times.

Once it has been formulated, make a copy of the plan available to employees at all times. Upload it to your new cloud-based storage system for easy access. Be sure to review the plan with employees on a regular basis. You may even consider doing a run-though of the plan, as you would do with a fire drill. Implementing a workshifting program will help employees feel comfortable completing tasks away from the office and using any new tools the company has adopted.

Trusted, dependable file storage

Whether you are facing an unexpected disruption or simply adapting company culture, Citrix ShareFile gives you the flexibility you need. ShareFile enables companies to work anywhere by providing secure access to online folders through the web interface, ShareFile Sync and mobile applications.

Enabling transfers up to 10 GB at one time, your ShareFile account makes it easy to transfer all essential business data into your online account so you can work from home or anywhere you wish as efficiently as from the office. Match your ShareFile account with GoToMeeting by Citrix, and your office can function anywhere. Employees are able to meet virtually in order to plan to get business back to full capacity or collaborate over the same resources they would have in the normal office.

One of the most important things to keep in mind in creating a disaster recovery plan is that the confidentiality of business data must be maintained, even as normal protections may be compromised. ShareFile brings industry-leading, business-friendly security to the transfer and storage of your data so that you don’t have to worry about a security breach, no matter where you need to access your data.

With up to 256-bit AES encryption and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption protocols for file transfer, as well as 256-bit AES encrypted file storage, your files are always protected with ShareFile. Business-ready mobile applications ensure that all access to information stored with ShareFile from a mobile device is easily managed by administrators, protecting against accidental distribution in the case of a lost or stolen mobile device.

ShareFile has provided secure, flexible file transfer to businesses since 2005. By providing easy, anytime access to all company data directly from a web-based portal or mobile applications, ShareFile eases the task of managing your company’s critical data in times where a paperbased system or locally-installed document management is not available.

To learn more about the features of your ShareFile account, contact the ShareFile support team at 1-800- 441-3453 or support@ShareFile.com, or speak with your ShareFile account manager. If you do not have a ShareFile account, please sign up for a 30-day free trial at www.ShareFile.com.

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