A good disaster recovery plan is both proactive and reactive and has four components: equipment, data, facilities, and personnel.
Equipment includes the hardware and software used to maintain and protect your system, as well as restore functionality in the event of a disaster.
- Identify your vital network components and maintain a surplus of replacement parts; for example, keep a spare network interface card or extra cable.
- Use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) on all servers and critical workstations. A basic UPS provides backup power during power loss, allowing you to properly shut down and avoid data loss or corruption.
- Consider using mirrored disks on your server. Data is written to multiple disks to provide redundancy.
- Implement firewall and anti-virus software to protect from viruses and hackers. Update your anti-virus software regularly.
- Review and meet or exceed the system requirements for each Blackbaud product you use.
- Keep more than one data backup device, such as a CD-RW drive, Zip, or Jaz drive.
Your data is the most important reason to implement a disaster recovery plan. Creating regular copies or backups of your data and software is crucial to recovery. You can use a variety of media for backing up your data including tape, disk, optical disk, and CD. Several companies provide backups over the Internet. Whichever method you use, remember that a backup is not effective if you do it only occasionally.
- Create a daily and weekly schedule for backing up your systems. Weekly backups should include the entire system.
- Rotate your backup media. Label your tape cartridges Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., and use them accordingly. Keep enough tapes to allow 3-4 weeks before reusing each tape.
- Store your backups in a fire and water-resistant safe. Keep at least one copy of the backup at a different location. Some organizations use a bank safe deposit box.
- Also keep a backup copy of crucial software installations. The latest versions of Blackbaud software can be downloaded from our Web site, burned to CD, and kept along with copies of your database.
- Frequently test your backups by restoring them and confirming that they are complete. In some cases, a file may have been open at the time of the backup and therefore was skipped.
Facilities play an important role in preparing for and recovering from disaster. Knowing your office and network layout can significantly improve recovery time.
- Lock up your server to protect it from tampering and theft.
- If your server is stored in a remote location, invest in a system that monitors temperature, humidity, water, smoke, airflow, power, and intrusion.
- Know whom to contact to restore power, telephone, and vital systems.
- Document your network so any network professional could work with it.
- Investigate alternate facilities in case your office becomes inaccessible. A cold site is a computer-ready room with wiring for power and network access. A hot site has pre-installed computers, telecommunications equipment, network access, and uninterruptible power supplies.
No disaster recovery plan is complete without personnel to enact it. A knowledgeable staff saves time and money in the event of a disaster. Organize a diverse team and ensure each member knows his role.
- Having a "guru" in your department is helpful; however, no member of your staff should be irreplaceable. Cross-train employees so they can assist in the event of a staffing shortage.
- Match members of your disaster recovery team with their skills.
- Document who is responsible for each task. Ensure each person knows the plan and where to find it in an emergency.
- Prepare your staff by practicing your disaster recovery plan.
A disaster recovery plan is an ongoing process. Review and adjust the plan as needed. Although we hope to never need it, a proper plan can mean the difference between recovery and a hard lesson.