Natural disasters may often be unpredictable, but you likely know if your business is in a high-risk zone. Whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, or volcanos, a natural disaster isn’t going to spare your data. If there’s even the smallest chance that your data is at risk from natural disaster, there are various pre-emptive steps you can take to try and mitigate the damage.
The most important piece of advice to give is that your data backup should be physically separate from the primary data source. The reason for this is that if both your primary and backup data are nearby, a natural disaster is likely to take them both out simultaneously.
Your backup doesn’t have to be in the cloud, though that’s often the easiest and most cost-effective solution. It could also be in a third-party facility, perhaps one within travelling distance so that physical recovery is quicker if needs be – though, of course, one not within the same disaster zone that you’re in.
Alternatively, you could do a combination of various methods. The most crucial systems and data could be backed up into the cloud, ready to access in an emergency; analyse what that would be with a business impact analysis.
If it is only possible to backup locally – and again, that’s strongly discouraged – consider going for portable, high capacity storage devices. This will enable you to take the backups physically with you, should you be able to in the situation.
You should review the frequency of your backups too. Backups can be useful to recover specific bits of data as needed. But in a natural disaster, it’s going to take it all out. You might want to take them every hour, rather than every day, for example.
At the same time, make sure that your network can cope with the increased load from the backups. There’s no point scheduling regular backups if you don’t have enough bandwidth to cope with the demand – data will get clogged up and things won’t be backed up properly, which completely defeats the point. You may need to upgrade your network infrastructure, but it’s a necessary cost.
Carry out risk assessments to find out where vulnerable points are in your physical and virtual network. Prioritise protecting these areas first, if time or money is short. Also, keep your backup and recovery plans up to date, ensuring they account for any changes that might have taken place since the last time they were reviewed.
Keep these backups monitored. It’s all well and good having an off-site backup that occurs every hour, but don’t find out that the backup is actually corrupted when you come to need it. Regularly ensure that systems are backing up properly and do spot checks of the data.
This is all good advice for backup generally, whether you’re in a natural disaster zone or not. But if you are, it becomes all the more pertinent. Natural disasters can strike at any time, without warning. Make sure your data and your backups are prepared.
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