Planning for disaster recovery – still patchy

Disaster Strikes!

Kiwis are concerned about data theft and computer security, according to a recent survey.

But, despite this, according to another survey, disaster recovery planning is still patchy.

New Zealanders’ concern about data security was revealed in a recent Unisys Security Index report. It found 62 per cent of those surveyed were very worried about their information being hacked, and also about computer security.

At the same time, a US Tech Target survey found half of all the companies it surveyed didn’t have a disaster recovery plan in place. And, while data protection is about more than guarding against data loss and computer security, these are significant threats that a good disaster recovery plan can help mitigate.

The Tech Target data protection survey revealed many company disaster recovery (DR) plans to be patchy at best. Indeed, half of all the survey’s respondents said they didn’t even have a set testing schedule for their DR plan (ten per cent) or else they only tested it once a year (40 per cent).

In addition, most companies – 60 per cent – said their disaster recovery plan only covered their most critical applications. This is despite the fact that data protection is more a process than a destination – servers are dynamic, so you can’t expect everything to stay the same on your system. Software upgrades, for example, can cause problems with backing up, which means systems need to be checked when upgrades are installed, to ensure they won’t fail you should there be a disaster.

So, what are companies doing to protect their data?

Well, the data protection survey found 60 per cent were using disks for back-up, while 47 per cent were using remote replication – copying data to an external device or service. And a substantial 40 per cent were still using old-fashioned tapes, with most sending these offsite. However, very few of those surveyed were using cloud services as a back-up – a mere seven per cent. But 29 per cent said they were looking at such services.

Commenting on what you need to do in devising a disaster recovery plan, Computer Forensics’ MD, Brian Eardley Wilmot, said: “When putting such a plan in place, you need to ensure it can meet your future needs as well as your present ones, i.e. should be scaleable. You also need to ensure you can recover your data promptly should disaster strike. This will vary with different companies – some need almost instant access while others can wait a day or so.

“This is where regular checks, to ensure you are backing up properly, are so important.

Think of fire-drill!

You need to be sure your disaster recovery plan isn’t a patchwork one that doesn’t cover all your applications or compromises on data accessibility.”

Tips – what to consider when developing a disaster recovery plan

  • Recovery time – can you access your data in good time?
  • Vendor’s reputation and reliability – both are important
  • Ease of use
  • How much control you will have over your data – a particular concern with overseas cloud services
  • Compatibility – is the technology or service you’re considering compatible with your existing back-up and storage systems?
  • Do you need to outsource some tasks or responsibilities? For example, some SMEs have very limited in-house IT capacity
  • Price – this is an issue but needs to be balanced against other considerations
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