When you’re running a small business, you probably don’t spend time thinking about what could go wrong. Most of the time, you’re too busy making sure everything’s running smoothly. And if you do get a chance to think about the future, you focus on the positive aspects, making plans for when your business takes off.
If you do ever think about what could go wrong, you probably start thinking about giant disasters — supervolcanoes and alien invasions and sharknados oh my.
But when we talk about disaster recovery, we’re not talking about epic cinematic events, we’re talking about the tiny disasters that can change your business permanently. The power going out overnight. A failed hard drive. Even something as simple as a long-time employee not paying attention and overwriting a file.
If you don’t have a continuity plan for your business, these little problems can snowball into big disasters — maybe not a worldwide crisis, but definitely a major one for your business.
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan provides the structure your people need when something goes wrong. It can include contact information, lists of suppliers, backup plans, and detailed instructions. When something happens, your team has it on hand to stop them panicking.
It doesn’t need to have detailed plans for all possibilities, just a solid framework that can be applied to practically any problem. The same guide that helps you figure out what to do when a hard drive fails can work just as well when a computer is stolen or even when a targeted electromagnetic pulse has destroyed all the electronics in your town.
We’re a web hosting business, so we’ll focus on the technical aspects of your disaster planning, especially relating to your website and IT. But if you want to make sure you’re prepared for any type of disaster, the USA’s Ready.gov website and the UK’s Gov.UK Preparing for emergencies page are filled with information to help.
What should my IT business continuity plan look like?
It really depends on what you have in your business and what’s involved. A sole trader with a single laptop is very different from a multinational operation with an entire disaster recovery team which is also very different from a small shop with a couple of computers.
Essentially, your technical business continuity plan should be:
- Who do I need to talk to?
- Where do I find important information?
- Where can I get replacements?
So, based on that, it can include:
- A list of people in the company to contact in case of a problem
- A list of trusted vendors that can replace or fix your technology quickly
- The location of manuals for equipment and software
- A list of serial numbers for hardware and software
- Step-by-step instructions on how to fix common problems
- The location of your backups and how to retrieve them
The last one on that list is incredibly important. If you’re not already doing it, let me spell it out for you.
What do I need to back up?
Really, you should be backing up everything regularly — if it has information you need, you should have a copy of that somewhere. Whether it’s your work mobile, your laptop, or your website, you should regularly be taking backups and making sure they’re stored off-site.
With cloud computing, it’s definitely a lot easier to keep your backups separate. No more worrying about being buried under stacks of CDs, no more losing that one USB stick, no more dusty old tapes taking up a corner of your office. Just upload and relax.
And many companies now offer automatic backups, which are perfect for making copies of your websites. You don’t even need to remember to take them — you just set them up once, and then they happen every night, giving you a quick and easy backup of your website when you need it.
With our backups, you get a snapshot taken every day of your websites and databases, with a rolling 30-day period. Site gets hacked? Go back to before and restore your clean version. Someone deleted a file? Roll back to the night before. Making a huge change? Take a one-off backup right before you change everything over, just in case.
And don’t forget to test your backups from time to time! You don’t want to find out there’s a problem right when you need them the most.
Backups won’t save your business from everything. We can’t protect you from rampaging giant lizards or asteroids hurtling towards Earth. But if you’ve ever made a mistake on a website, and wished you could make it magically go away, your backups are here for you.