Types of Disaster Recovery
Having a robust disaster recovery plan is a priority for your business
Choosing the right type of disaster recovery plan for your business is a crucial element in maintaining business continuity. A disaster recovery plan will help you to protect your business, by reducing the impact as well as minimising any disruption and loss of data. There are different types of disaster recovery plans to suit various needs and budgets.
A good plan will allow you to act fast and protect your business efficiently despite unexpected disruption, whether it be a data centre issue, your network is attacked by ransomware or server crashes.
Given that disaster recovery is an important part of any business continuity plan it is key to understand how disaster recovery planning fits into the overall business continuity plan and supports the goals of the business.
In this post we will look at the different types of disaster recovery plans businesses can implement.
What is a disaster recovery plan?
A disaster recovery plan is a fully documented set of tools and procedures that can be implemented immediately in the event of an IT disaster. It's basically your action plan in case of a technical disaster. These processes will allow to recover and protect your business IT infrastructure, so you can resume a normal working day as quickly as possible.
Malicious users, blackouts, data breaches or other chaotic situations are all potential threats. Having a robust, well planned set of procedures in case of a disaster will ensure that you can recover your systems and significantly reduce downtime.
The demand for rapid recovery is always increasing as well as proactive protection. According to a 2020 survey servers downtime cost to business ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars globally in 2019.
There are plenty of benefits of having a disaster recovery plan, it is important to have it in place so you can respond to a disaster quickly and efficiently to minimise the effects. What do you need to choose the best type of disaster recovery plan for your business?
Determine your needs to choose the right disaster recovery plan
In the event of a disaster determining your critical needs is essential.
There are two main points to look at Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). These are terms you may encounter when looking for a disaster recovery solution for your business. They refer to how often do you back up your data and how long does it take to recover.
The very first step is to identify which services are critical to your business and you can't afford for them to be unreachable. You need to calculate the risk involved and establish if downtime for a few seconds, minutes or even hours is acceptable or if it would have disasterous consequences for your business.
The most common examples are web services, databases, file servers, email services. If you have a bespoke solution that is being directly accessed by your customers 24/7, this entire solution requires a full Disaster Recovery Plan.
For example, when it comes to taking snapshots of your file systems, do you need to take backups every hour, every 4 hours or is a nightly back up sufficient.
How long can you afford to be down for. Which services are the most crucial for your business? Depending on the size and type of business.
For example one of our recent HelpDesk Hero clients, an accounting firm in London - their mission-critical software is IRIS, running on a secure server within their office. Part of their disaster recovery plan is to run a backup internet connection to their office in case of connectivity failure.
Using the UniFi Security Gateway Pro we've set up a failover line with another ISP and wrote a script for the DNS monitor to swap the IP addresses around when one of them is unreachable, so for the users it's always seamless and the only thing they need to remember is their office domain, e.g. office.business.com.
In this instance, the client preferred not to use cloud hosting for their sensitive data (their personal preference), so we set up a secondary server to mirror the primary one every hour. As these are incremental backups and the data is not huge, it takes less than 10 minutes to be up to date, without slowing down the primary server while in use by their team.
All data is backed up nightly to a local NAS to keep a 3rd level backup with all revisions - this also doubles up as an accountability and traceability tool in case any data is tampered with.
If there's a disaster with the primary server (be it hardware or software), the secondary server becomes immediately accessible via a different internal route and we are alerted to investigate the servers. We create a snapshot of both servers to be able to investigate the cause of disaster without affecting business operations.
British Airways IT Failure
In the case that made the news in May 2017, when British Airways IT systems went down around the world, with staff unable to check-in passengers because of a power failure in a West London data centre. The power outage didn't last long, but it was detrimental as thousands of flights were cancelled with tens of thousands of customers travel plans affected. This IT failure cost British Airways £80M in lost revenue and compensation.
As you can see, every business will have its own unique requirements and utilise various types of disaster recovery.
If you are a small business and you are down only for 24 hours, it might be forgivable as long as you keep your clients updated. We still, however, recommend a robust recovery strategy.
4 Types of Disaster Recovery Plan for your business
In general terms, you can find four types of disaster recovery plans for businesses. Finding out which strategy suits you and your company properly will make your data more reliable against cyber threats, natural disasters, and basic human error.
Here are the four types of recovery plans to consider:
1. Cloud-based disaster recovery (DRaaS)
Using the cloud is cost-effective and reliable, and it is ideal for SMEs who don't have a huge budget. With cloud based recovery it backs up data, applications and other resources.
It's more scalable and resources can be restored from the cloud back to their original locations.
Cloud based recovery is ideal for all businesses that don't operate with heavy data transfers as these can be very costly on transfer fees. Businesses that rely mainly on emails, sending and sharing documents, compact financial data will have no problem restoring their data in a reasonable time frame.
Companies working with large media files or big data sets will have to create a more complex scalable solution to avoid downtime without trying to restore TB's of data in case of a disaster.
2. Back-up only disaster recovery
Just as its name suggests, Backup only strategies focus on securing your files by making daily backups (like saving in an external hard drive) in other different places. With Backup only, if a disaster occurs in your business, the data will be safe somewhere else and you will keep your business running.
As an accountancy firm, if your data is critical to your business but not being able to service your clients efficiently for a few hours or days is not the worst scenario - a robust backup of your data might be sufficient. While the restoration is in progress, you are able to access this backup for reference so you can still service your clients and let them know that their enquiry will be dealt with the next day after all systems are back online.
This may not be enough for some businesses, because it will keep your information secure, but not your IT infrastructure.
3. Virtual Disaster Recovery
Virtual disaster recovery solutions are easy to manage. Your servers, operating systems, apps can be run on any working stations using Virtual Machines. A virtual disaster recovery solution literally creates a replica of your entire computing environment, so your live infrastructure is safe from malicious attacks.
This type of disaster recovery is good for engineering and surveyance firms, publishing companies and law firms amongst others. If their services are running in a virtualized environment, no matter how the disaster or how malicious an attack on their systems could be, all their sensitive data, applications and environments can be fully replicated.
This is achieved using snapshots to make them identical with their setup from before the disaster. Subject to the amount of data each individual business uses, this could take from between minutes to several hours.
Cyber threats make companies, no matter how big or small, vulnerable.
4. Data Centre Disaster Recovery
The building plays a major role in this type of disaster recovery plan because it's made for big enterprises. Physical personal guarding the servers, backup power, managing staff taking care of servers and even fire alarms. This plan is made for big enterprises that require 24/7 supervision of their servers, imagine Google or Microsoft in these cases.
How HelpDesk Heroes can help with your disaster recovery
So, when we're talking about types of disaster recovery and backups it's very important to consider things such as how long can my business afford to be down and how much data can my business afford to lose.
Looking at the challenges and what are the true costs of a disaster recovery solution, if you build it yourself how complex is it to support it and maintain it versus having somebody else provide a solution that's already done.
If you decide to use a colocation facility for your hardware, make sure that the engineers who have access to your servers are strictly vetted and they have only limited access without your approval. With this setup you have the extra safety and control over your data, however keep in mind that your hosting provider is not responsible for your hardware or data, you are.
Your redundancy strategy and disaster recovery plan becomes extremely important and you should build everything to avoid a single point of failure.
Typically, we see clients who have built their own services, who either have a disaster recovery strategy but it is out of date and may not offer the level of protection needed or companies who think that their solution is robust enough and no disaster can touch them.
Supply chain and 3rd party vendors
We also take into consideration supply chain and 3rd party vendors and the increasing number of additional factors that might affect your operations. As unexpected as your business may think these could be, for example nobody planned for a global pandemic, however businesses that responded quickly have not been affected by it as much as business that were in denial about its consequences.
Protecting your entire environment
We work to protect your entire IT environment, including data, applications and infrastructure, and write, implement, test and deploy your own disaster recovery plan.
Here at HelpDesk Heroes we advise on the different types of disaster recovery plans and best practices for businesses and create an efficient solution for you. From risk assessment to response and continuity, we work to protect against both minor and major disruptions to operations keeping your business assets safe.
Do you need help with your disaster recovery plan?
Our team will advise and implement the right disaster recovery plan for the recovery or continuation of critical technology infrastructure and systems.
Tell us about your technical needs and we will recommend the ideal solution for you.
Read more from our blog
Professional Outsourced IT Support London
We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service and effective IT solutions. Working with clients in London and around the UK, across a range of industries, our expert IT support services offer a perfect solution for businesses of all sizes.
If you need to outsource your IT support or reviewing your existing IT services arrangements contact our technical HelpDesk support team today.