6 Common misconceptions about IT disaster recovery

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If you turn on your computer and all of your files are gone? What do you do? How does it affect your business?

If you are hit by ransomware, do you know how quickly you can be back online?

What do you need to return to productivity when vital IT applications or hardware go down?

These situations are examples of IT disasters, and they can halt productivity, damage your reputation, and accrue significant financial losses if they are not handled swiftly and effectively. This process is known as IT recovery.

But how do you know if you have a quality IT recovery system? We've collected six common misconceptions and truths about IT recovery to help you evaluate your IT recovery plan.

WEBIT Services has helped clients build IT strategies and safeguards for over 25 years.

As an IT provider, we know we are biased in recommending clients work with an IT provider to build their backup and recovery systems.

However, we also recognize that you know your business and its needs best. Therefore, we hope this article brings some insight and clarity regarding the backups and the process surrounding them.

By reading this article, you will learn six misconceptions about the IT recovery process, the corresponding truth about IT recovery, and the next steps for creating or improving your IT recovery plan.

1. "IT disasters aren't a big deal."

Some people may think an IT disaster is easy to solve or won't affect their business. However, some companies never recover from an IT disaster.

The downtime may have been too long, accruing detrimental financial loss.

On the other hand, irreplaceable data may have been lost. Irreplaceable data is anything that can't be recreated from memory. This may include a product's recipe or design, or it could be patient medical records.

If client data is compromised in a cyberattack, this could result in a damaged reputation and losing clientele.

Companies must create an IT disaster recovery plan to avoid significant downtime and losses. A thorough and effective plan can save your business if faced with an IT disaster.

2. "IT recovery doesn't take much time."

IT recovery time is determined by your backup and recovery systems, IT continuity system, and IT disaster recovery plan.

If you have planned effectively and have quality backups, your system may recover in a day or so. You may be back in four hours or fewer if you have an IT continuity system.

However, recovery could take weeks or even months if you have not planned and made proper preparations for the worst-case scenario.

For example, suppose two companies experience a server failure, an IT disaster that halts all productivity until it is corrected.

Business A has an IT recovery plan in place. They have a replacement server ready. Their IT provider or internal IT team will only need to verify that the server is configured correctly to get the company back online. Because Business A has invested in IT continuity, it is up and running in just a couple of hours.

On the other hand, Business B has not prepared for server failure. Therefore, it must order a replacement server.

If Business B's vendor has a perfect replacement, Business B will still need to wait for the server to be delivered and programmed from scratch.

However, if the vendor does not have a server handy, it will need to build it, as servers are often customized builds. Depending on supply chain issues, this process could take days or even weeks.

Once the server is delivered, Business B's IT provider or internal IT team must program it. Backups and continuity help decrease the time it takes to program the hardware. But the server must be programmed from scratch if backups aren't working. This may take additional days or weeks.

3. "I'm doing backups, so I'm good."

While backups are a crucial part of IT disaster recovery, backups alone do not always guarantee a speedy recovery.

It is a red flag if your IT provider hasn't discussed a backup and recovery system with you. Back-ups are not a "set it and forget it"  or "one-size-fits-all" tool. Instead, backups must be customized based on your company's unique needs.

It's important to note that backups are not IT continuity. Continuity saves and restores data in real time, while backups save data within a set timeframe.

For example, you may back up your system every 24 hours. Every day at 6:00 PM, all the data for the day is safely stored. If your system crashes the next day, you can restore the files from the last saved backup.

While crucial to the IT recovery process, backups do not guarantee a short downtime (though they create a shorter downtime than if you didn't have them).

Backup files must also be regularly tested to ensure they are not corrupted. You don't want to assume you have working backups in a crisis only to learn they are useless. To avoid this, someone needs to test your backups daily.

To have effective backups, you must:

  1. Identify your mission-critical systems and data.
  2. Choose what kind of backups you need: file-based or image-based.
  3. Determine how far back your backups must reach.
  4. Determine how quickly you want to recover
  5. Determine where your backups are stored.
  6. Test backups daily to ensure they work.

If you have questions about your backups, speak with your IT provider or internal IT team. It can help you create a backup system that meets your needs for a smoother recovery.

4. "Any data lost in an IT disaster can be recovered."

Lost data can only be recovered if it has a working backup. The data is lost if no backup has been made or the backup is corrupted.

Without a working backup file, your only option is to recreate the information manually.

If this is not possible, then the data cannot be restored.

5. "My IT provider will take care of everything."

In an IT crisis, your IT provider or team will help to the best of their ability, but unfortunately, they are not wizards. The IT provider or team is limited if a business is experiencing an IT disaster but has not established an IT recovery plan, IT continuity, or IT backups.

With a detailed and effective recovery plan, your IT provider should have you back online within the targeted recovery time objective. In addition, it will have the necessary resources and planning to restore IT functionality and productivity.

On the other hand, an IT provider cannot restore files or systems without working backups or knowledge of your IT system as outlined in your recovery plan. In that case, everything must be manually rebuilt. In some instances, rebuilds are impossible, and crucial systems or data are lost.

6. "IT recovery is a single system or tool."

If an area of your business uses technology, it's affected by IT disasters and IT recovery. IT recovery is holistic and should encompass all your mission-critical IT systems, data, and processes.

If your recovery plan misses a vital system, it will affect your recovery time and quality.

For example, suppose you forget to add your sales department's customer relationship management (CRM) program to your backup and recovery plan. In that case, you will lose all of the information your sales team has gathered on potential customers.

Next steps for creating an IT recovery plan

After reviewing the common misconceptions about IT recovery, we have learned six truths:

  1. IT disasters can create incredible damage, so businesses must prepare for them.
  2. IT recovery time directly correlates to the thoroughness of your IT recovery plan.
  3. Backups are not continuity, must be customized to fit your business, and must be regularly tested.
  4. Data must be recovered manually or through backups and continuity.
  5. IT providers can help you recover from an IT disaster, but your IT recovery plan helps determine their effectiveness.
  6. IT recovery is holistic and can affect all areas of your business.

A thorough IT recovery plan is the key to minimizing IT downtime and financial losses in an IT disaster.

Your IT provider or internal IT team can help you build an effective IT recovery plan. Once your plan is created, it should be revisited and, if necessary, adjusted annually.

If your IT provider has not discussed an IT recovery process or an IT incident response plan with you, this may be a red flag. IT recovery and incident response plans are crucial to building a resilient IT system.

WEBIT Services has been performing risk assessments, creating incident response plans, and enacting IT strategies for satisfied clients for over 25 years.

If you're looking for a new IT provider, book a free 30-minute assessment to see how WEBIT services can help.

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