Disaster Planning & Recovery

Disaster Planning, Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery

When you think disaster, and I think disaster, I’ll bet we’re thinking two different things.

As a (retired) Disaster Operations Manager with the largest NGO in the disaster preparedness and recovery business in the world with more than 20 years experience, one could say that I’m well-qualified to discuss disaster planning and recovery.  Most people equate fire, floods, earthquakes, windstorms, terrorist events, and similar events with the word Disaster – and you’d be right.  But what if you’re a business and someone hits the telephone pole outside your office and knocks out your power and internet connectivity for a few days?  Would that be a disaster for your business?

Investing a little time in developing a plan of action in the event of an unplanned event will save you an unbelievable amount of headache when the stuff hits the fan.  Don’t believe me?  I’ll give you a couple of incidents that have taken place locally to help clarify the situation:

Business owner had a serious roof failure in his business that closed the doors for a year while building repairs could be made.  The temporary relocation hurt their business, as you could imagine.  But the real insult came after they moved back into the building following repairs:  The hard drive in the laptop on which they kept all their business records suddenly died.  All their accounting records, financial records, and everything related to their losses from the initial disaster – lost.  No backups.  No off-site backups.  Nothing to work with.  Of course, this is the time when people started needing those records…

Business relied on a local technician who worked out of his home to maintain their computer network.  One day, without warning, the technician moved to another state and was no longer available to service their computer system.  What happens?  Murphy visits and hits the business with a power surge, taking out their server and switch, and taking the business off-line.  Lucky for us and for them, they called Westside Technologies based on a word-of-mouth recommendation.  While they were down for a few days, we were able to help them continue to operate while we put new equipment in place and restore operations.  Important item to consider:  Nobody in the area had a server ready to install for them, except Westside (we try to keep at least one server ready-to-deploy for exactly this reason).  If it weren’t for the somewhat lucky accident of calling us, they would have been off-line for 2-4 weeks.

We had spoken with a business several times about a backup solution after seeing their business computers for various hardware failures and virus infections.  “No, it will cost too much,” was the consistent answer we heard.  One day we get the dreaded panic-call and go to check their server out…  The hard drive’s bearings are seized up and the drive won’t start, no matter how much effort I give it.  “But you don’t understand, it isn’t just my information on there, it’s about 300 customer’s business records on that machine too!”  Yes, we understand – and it’s the exact reason we repeatedly suggested a backup solution.  In the end, the customer couldn’t justify the $5,000 cost to send the drive to a professional drive recovery service so he  allowed us to give it our best shot in-house.  By taking apart the drive in a sealed environment and carefully working the platter motor free, we were able to recover his data from the drive.  Very lucky for the client, and only 4 hours of my time to make it happen.  But what would the outcome have been if we had been unable to make this happen?  Better yet, tell me a single business in 100 miles that could – would – be able to do the same work to make this a relatively successful outcome?

Last item:  A business-owner and friend was the victim of an arson when the business next door to him was burned down by the business owner.  He was well-insured, so he didn’t have initial concerns about the situation until the next day.  All of his paperwork and documentation, including insurance policy and corporate papers, etc., were in his safe – in the burned out building.  Because the structure was deemed unsafe, he wasn’t allowed to get into the building for nearly 30 days.  When he was finally able to access the building, he discovered that the backup hard drives for his servers (sitting in the safe) were in very bad shape from exposure to heat and water.  Of course, the server was destroyed and the backup data was paramount to the survival of his business.  Sadly, his insurance policy didn’t cover drive recovery service for the four hard drives and the bill was nearly $20,000 to recover the data.

Disaster planning comes down to evaluating the risks and looking for meaningful solutions that will mitigate the damage — and maintain continuity of business.  Westside Technologies has the experience that results in foresight into the mind of Murphy.  We can provide you with meaningful, cost-effective solutions for nearly every stage of disaster planning.  Call for a consultation.