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How to create your company's disaster recovery plan.

If you are the manager of an office or branch or the owner of the company, one of the most important and vital questions that you should ask is how to create your company's disaster plan.

You might think that a disaster plan is essentially for nutcases who live in compounds out West somewhere, hoarding dried milk and beans and waiting for the end of the world.Think again.Disaster can strike your company in a number of different forms: a hurricane that destroys all of your records, a fire that destroys your office, or a technology disaster that crashes and erases your entire server.If you don't have a disaster recovery plan in place before a disaster hits, then you are essentially without hope if anything bad should ever happen to your company.

The first step in creating a disaster recovery plan is to make a list of all of the possible risks to your company.If you live in an earthquake prone area, then this is one of your risks.What about hurricanes?Tornadoes?Flooding?Fire?Technology problems?Security?No matter how outlandish, write it down (well, don't write down the possibility of dragons attacking your office in Des Moines; that's a little too outlandish).Now that you've made a list of all of the possible risks, go through each one and ask the following questions: what can we do to avoid this risk?How much will it cost to suppress the risks?Is it possible to know that something is coming, like maybe a hurricane?How can we minimize the effect that this risk has on the business?What will all of this cost, once again?So, go through your list, and come up with ways to combat each possible scenario.For an earthquake, you could have an alternative power supply, and for a fire or a hurricane, you could have off site data storage and back up.

Now that you are done with the first step, then the IT company should hand the list over to your business operations.This is done so that your budgeting department can decide exactly how much money should be allotted to disaster recovery.This means that your operations and your budgets department are going to have to decide what kinds of risks and effects your business can handle, and which ones should be mitigated.Make sure as IT that you calculate exactly how much it will cost your business to recover if there is not disaster recovery plan in place, answering questions like how long your business can afford to be without computers.

On to the third step in creating your company's disaster recovery plan.Once your business operations and budgeting departments have decided what your disaster recovery plan budget is going to be, then you can take the step of creating a concrete plan for disaster recovery.Decide what you can afford to tolerate-for example, can your business be down for a week?Do you need to be up within 48 hours?Having these sorts of parameters in place will help you create a disaster recovery plan that will meet your recovery goals.Come up with a concrete plan, and then test your disaster recovery system.Re configure them, and then retest your disaster recovery systems before you launch them.Write down every single disaster recovery procedure as a detailed plan.Establish a particular disaster recovery team that is extra familiar with the procedures that you have decided on.Assign each member of your disaster recovery team particular responsibilities that they have to carry out in the event of a disaster.Have company wide training so that everybody is on the same page and knows what ot expect in the event of a disaster.Finally, once you have your disaster recovery plan in place, then test it frequently.Make sure that everybody knows exactly what they are going to be doing.If you frequently test the computer systems that you will be using in the event, then you will be able to make sure that they are updated and ready to use.And reassess your disaster recovery plan yearly to make sure that it still meets the needs of your company.And while having dried beans in your office is not that great an idea, a store of bottled water might be.

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