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No time to prepare a small business disaster recovery plan? Here’s why it’s worth making the time

4-minute read

Lauren Hellicar

27 September 2018

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If you already feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to run your small business, preparing a disaster recovery plan may seem pretty low down in your priorities.

That's understandable, as most of the day-to-day running of your operation falls on your shoulders. But there are several good reasons why it’s worth bumping it up to the top of your to-do list.

  • GDPR for small businesses

Planning for the what ifs can leave you free to focus on making a success of the here and now. Why wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to protect the business you’ve invested so much time and effort in?

Here we answer some of the key questions about disaster recovery for small businesses to help you get started.

What’s a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery plan is a written document that lays out how you’ll protect your business if the worst happens.

It should include things like how you’ll recover your IT infrastructure, where you’ll work if you can’t access your usual work space, and what you’ll do if the equipment or vehicle you need to do your work is stolen.

What should you include in your plan?

Here’s your small business disaster recovery (DR) plan checklist:

  • Objectives – what’s the plan for?
  • Scope – which services and locations does the plan cover?
  • Internal contacts – who do you need to tell within your business?
  • External contacts – which customers, suppliers, or employees do you need to tell?
  • Incident response – which type of events will trigger your DR plan?
  • DR procedures – what’s your plan of action for each type of incident?
  • Alternative work location – where will you work if you can’t be in your usual location?
  • Insurance policies – what are your policy numbers and which number should you call?
  • DR plan review – how and how often will you check your plan works?

There may be other items you’ll want to add to this list depending on the nature of your individual business. For example, if you run a mobile business or you're a tradesperson, you should include your plan B for transport between jobs if your vehicle breaks down or is stolen.

Who needs a disaster recovery plan?

You might think disaster recovery plans are only for big corporations with lots of resources. But they’re arguably even more important for small businesses.

Whereas a big organisation will usually have a hefty enough financial buffer to deal with any costly mishaps, small firms are less likely to have the same levels of spare cash lying around to pay for business disasters.

Think of your disaster recovery plan as giving you peace of mind, in the same way a business insurance policy can.

Ash Venn, Senior Information Security Analyst at Simply Business, says, "Having a Disaster Recovery plan is important for any business, no matter how big or small.

"By forward planning, you'll be able to work out which assets are the most important to keep your business in operation and running smoothly. You can also minimise the financial impact if your business isn’t able to run for a certain period and maintain the reputation you’ve worked hard to build.

"It doesn’t have to be complicated – it could be as simple as having a spare laptop in case you lose or damage your other one."

Protect your data – your business depends on it

If you do any of your business online – from emails, to orders, to invoicing – you simply can’t afford to lose access to your data. Whether it’s due to human error, a cyber attack, or a natural disaster, data loss puts your business at risk and can be very costly to put right.

Here are our top tips for ensuring your data stays exactly where it should be.

Identify what’s essential

Check your phone, laptop, PC, or tablet for all the calendars, contacts, documents, and photos you couldn’t operate without.

Back it up

Make sure you regularly copy all your essential information over to a storage system that’s separate from your computer – and make a habit of it. Put a regular check in your diary to make sure you keep your business-critical backups up to date.

You could use a USB stick, an external hard drive, a separate laptop, or the cloud.

What’s the cloud?

Cloud storage providers store your data on their systems, so you’re not reliant on having access to a particular device or location. It’s a cost-effective and efficient way to keep your data secure.

If you use email and you don’t run your own server, you’re most likely already using the cloud. DropBox, Google Drive, and iCloud are just some of the many providers you can choose from. With most, you’ll get a limited amount of space for free, with the option to pay more to up your allowance.

These are some of the things to consider when deciding which cloud storage provider to sign up with:

  • cost
  • how much data you need to back up
  • how quickly you need to be able to access it

Cloud benefits

By signing up for cloud storage you'll get specialist expertise that you might not otherwise have the budget for as a small business owner.

Read the NCSC's cloud security guidance to help you understand what to look for when deciding which provider to go with.

Cloud storage lets you back up automatically too, giving you one less thing to think about. It’s also a great way to make sure those backups happen in real time rather than, say, once a week or once a month – by then, lots of your information could be out of date.

Other data storage options

If the cloud isn’t for you or your business, think about storing your backups in a different physical location, so if there’s a fire or your laptop is stolen, you won't be left without access to your data.

It’s also important not to keep your backup storage device permanently connected to your original data storage, whether it’s your laptop, your tablet, your phone, or another piece of hardware.

Viruses like ransomware and other malware may transfer themselves to your attached backup storage automatically, infecting your device, and leaving you with no access to your data.

Let us know how you get on with your disaster recovery plan in the comments below.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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