How to prepare for almost anything (especially if it concerns your server) - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

Are you prepared for disaster?

If you’re running a small business, you probably don’t want to think about what could go wrong. You might be too busy with the day-to-day aspects. You might be planning for the future, but focusing on the positive aspects. Or you might be thinking about disasters, but focusing on giant disasters, staying up at night thinking about supervolcanoes and asteroids.

But when we’re talking about disaster recovery and business continuity, we don’t mean cinematic adventures. We’re talking about the small disasters that can change your business permanently. A single hard drive failing. The power going out. Even a new employee rewriting over a file. Without a business continuity plan, these tiny problems can spiral out into giant disasters – maybe not worldwide, but definitely for your business.

A floppy disk on fire

Your business continuity plan gives your company what it needs when something goes wrong. With contact information, lists of suppliers, backup plans, and detailed instructions, a good business continuity plan provides the structure people need right when they’re about to panic.

What can a business continuity plan include?

It can seem an impossible task, creating business continuity plans. You think you have everything you need, but then you start thinking about new possible problems, about all the ways things could go wrong, and the next thing you know, you’re writing what to do in case of alien attack.

You don’t need to provide detailed plans for all possibilities – a basic guide gives you a strong framework you can then apply to any problem. The same guide that solves the problem of a hard drive failing can work just as well for when the entire computer is stolen or when a targeted electromagnetic pulse has destroyed all the electronics in your building.

Because we’re a technology business, we’ll focus on the technical side of your business continuity planning. If you want to make sure you’ve prepared for all types of disasters, you can see the British Red Cross’s guides on preparing for emergencies.

A heavily corroded hard disk

The first version of your IT plan should include:

  • A list of people in the company to contact in case of a problem, in order of importance
  • The location of utilities (gas, electric, water, etc.) in the building and how to turn them off
  • A list of vendors that can replace your technology quickly
  • The location of important documents, serial numbers, and other important details
  • Where your backups are located and how to retrieve them
  • How to make sure all staff are aware of this plan and what to do in case of a problem

TechTarget, as part of their Essential guide to business continuity and disaster recovery plans, have produced a free IT disaster recovery plan you can download and adapt to your own business. Including everything from contact trees to external communications, this plan can be the detailed template you need to make your own planning easy.

Everyday Tech has also produced a collection of templates to aid with your disaster recovery plans, including logging all your IP addresses, scheduling backups, and mapping out server dependencies.

Break glass for key

What was that about backups?

There are many options for file backups out there. Whether backing up your individual computer, running a file server, or keeping your website running, you should have a backup plan for every single piece of tech you have on hand – from your company mobile to your web server to that ancient fax machine you only use once a year.

With the advent of cloud hosting, it’s more convenient to keep your backups safe and separate from your files. No more worrying about tapes, stacking up CDs, or keeping everything on that easy to lose USB stick.

While many of our customers use our VPS, Hybrid, or Dedicated Servers as web hosting platforms, they also make excellent file hosting platforms, giving you a secure and easy way to store your important files in a location separate from your office.

Starting up a server

And when you use our servers as file servers, you get extra peace of mind, because we have business continuity plans already in place. Our data centres are staffed around the clock with fully trained engineers and security officers, and we have a built-in fire suppression system, two independent power feeds on each server rack, battery backup systems, and diesel generators for full continuous power, as well as a 10Gb/s network connection with direct access to several major Internet exchanges.

And it’s easy to set up a backup of your server, adding in just a bit more security for your data. We offer backup space for our VPS and Hybrid Servers for only £2 per month per 10GB slot, and we’ll help you set it up for free.

We’ve also just added the following articles to our Support Database to help you with backing up your server:

  • How do I mount the backup space on my VPS or Hybrid Server?
  • How do I automatically back up my data to my server’s backup drive using Plesk?
  • How do I automatically back up my data to my server’s backup drive using cPanel and WHM?

Remember, our Customer Services team is here to help you set up your backup if needed. Just log into your Heart Internet Customer Area, click on “Customer Services” in the right-hand menu, and raise a new Customer Services ticket.

So what are you prepared for? Have you written up your plan for when robots take over the world? Tell us in the comments.

A toy robot

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