bigstock-Are-you-Ready-written-on-the--75605917Can you imagine all of your business, or most of it, getting completely destroyed in a natural disaster? What would you do?

To many, it seems that having a disaster recovery plan in place is not necessary. But according to Symantec, 74% of SMBs have none in place, while a dismal 21% are “extremely confident” they can restore their data if lost. Half of SMBs backup less than 60% of their data.

Do you really want to gamble with your business by not being prepared? It’s easy to ignore and deny…until it happens to you.

Instead of risking your entire business, follow these disaster recovery best practices instead:

1. Identify your Mission Critical Applications:

These are the applications your company absolutely cannot live without and typically, your company’s executive leadership makes this decision. You must have these operating to do business. The next step is to define how long your company can function without these applications and prepare a plan that gets you up and operating before that time frame happens.

2. Identify Your Single Points of Failure:

These points, should they fail, lead to significant damage to your business’s ability to run (or it stops entirely). For example, if you store your data in a single physical location, that’s a “single point of failure.” If your server has just one network card and that card fails, you lose access to the entire server and all of its applications. Eliminate every one of these to make sure your business doesn’t grind to a halt because of a relatively simple disaster.

3. Plan:

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,” according to a quote from former US President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. No, you can’t plan out every last detail of any scenario that could happen. But, you can have an overarching, high-level plan in place. That could save your business millions of dollars…perhaps even your entire company.

4. What are Your Communication Plans?:

How are you going to communicate with your own employees, customers, and vendors? You should have a coordinated procedure for communicating with all of them in the event of a disaster. Employees should know how you want them to work, and how they’ll get your communications. You should know how you can reach your customers, and they should have expectations for communication frequency.

5. Test Your Plan Quarterly:

Conditions within your company’s IT infrastructure change. And any wise company always stays prepared for the worst possible scenario. Testing your disaster recovery plan quarterly is ideal, but doing it at least twice annually is a must.

Make sure you agree on the metrics that must be reached. Publish the results, and address any vulnerabilities and weak spots you find.

If you follow those disaster recovery procedures, you’ll find yourself hanging in there during even the most disruptive natural disaster. Don’t follow the lead of the 74% who don’t plan…or you might find yourself closing your doors much earlier than you thought.

And if you can’t do all of this yourself, you can always hire an outsourced IT support team to help you.

Learn more about the author Bob Martin