Disaster Recovery Should Be Top Of Mind

Have you given any thought to how long it would take to recover from a server disaster?  Have you actually exercised your recovery plan?  You do have a recovery plan, right?

I have had the misfortune to be involved with two MIP customers who have had such disasters only to discover that there was no backup from which their MIP data could be restored.

In one case, the user had just never tested the usefulness of the backups being made by trying to restore from one of them. When the time came that they were needed, the backups were found to be corrupted beyond repair.

In the other case, the IT staff in charge of backup management incorrectly believed that the MIP data was on the server drive on which they concentrated all their other program data (so that they could focus their back up efforts there and ignore the C: drive). They believed that only system files resided on their server’s C: drive. They were sure that they would always simply recover their C: drive by installing Windows and SQL Server and all would be well. But as you know (or should know), your MIP Organization database is managed in a folder about four levels deep from SQL Server in the Program Files folder tree on the server’s C: drive. At install time, the user has control of where the MIP Share folder will be stored, but none over where the actual database files (.mdf and .ldf) are stored.

Now the IT folks could certainly take the time to detach those files, move them to an appropriate location of their choice, and then reattach them there. But almost no one knows this is necessary.

Does your IT staff know this?

Why not put this down and pick up the phone and find out?

Disaster stats should encourage you to focus on your own disaster recovery plan

  • 6% of all PCs will suffer an episode of data loss in any given year.
  • 31% of PC users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control.
  • 34% of companies fail to test their backups, and of those that do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.
  • Companies that aren’t able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive. (Strategic Research Institute)
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. (Mozy Online Backup)
  • Simple drive recovery can cost upwards of $7,500 and success is not guaranteed.

Excuses for not conducting a disaster recovery test and having a plan are inexcusable when you have the facts.

There are a lot of reasons a nonprofit doesn’t have a disaster recovery plan or even test. Time or fear of failure or lack of knowledge or money shouldn’t stop you.

Maybe you hadn’t thought about how many ways data loss can occur. Wikipedia lists five major causes and over fourteen different examples:

  • Intentional Action
    • Intentional deletion of a file or program
  • Unintentional Action
    • Accidental deletion of a file or program
    • Misplacement of CDs or Memory sticks
    • Administration errors
    • Inability to read unknown file format
  • Failure
    • Power failure, resulting in data in volatile memory not being saved to permanent memory.
    • Hardware failure, such as a head crash in a hard disk.
    • A software crash or freeze, resulting in data not being saved.
    • Software bugs or poor usability, such as not confirming a file delete command.
    • Business failure (vendor bankruptcy), where data is stored with a software vendor using Software-as-a-service and SaaS data escrow has not been provisioned.
    • Data corruption, such as file system corruption or database corruption.
  • Disaster
    • Natural disaster, earthquake, flood, tornado, etc.
    • Fire
  • Crime
    • Theft, hacking, sabotage, etc.
    • A malicious act, such as a worm, virus, hacker or theft of physical media.

The cost of a data loss event is directly related to the value of the data and the length of time that it is needed, but unavailable. These costs include:

  • The cost of continuing without the data
  • The cost of recreating the data
  • The cost of notifying users in the event of a compromise

You really must be vigilant.

Do you have a disaster recovery plan for multiple disasters?

It’s spring (hopefully) and the winds and weather are still a big problem. Do you have a plan for disaster recovery if you lose your data because of hail or tornado or flood or another act of God? This article by Lindsey Farber in Forbes gives you some great ways to stay ahead of good ole Mother Nature. According to Farber,there are three big benefits to disaster recovery testing that may inspire you to take action:

  1. Clarity of Expectations
  2. Clarity of Assumptions
  3. Clarity of Ramifications

I encourage you to read the article at http://www.forbes.com/sites/sungardas/2014/04/10/how-to-multiply-the-effectiveness-of-your-disaster-recovery-testing/. Then test to find your weaknesses and fix the problems or have an offsite, maybe in the cloud, contingency.

You can’t afford (nor can those you serve afford) to have your nonprofit dead in the water! So, go take care of this before it’s too late.

Comments are closed.