The 3 main things you need to do to avoid an IT disaster

If you've ever experienced an IT disaster, you know you don't want to experience another one. Here are some tips to avoid the worst.

What is an IT disaster, exactly? 

Essentially, it's a situation where employees don't have the tools they need to perform their jobs - email, access to data on internal servers, or even internet access. At best, this stops productivity for a day or two while the issue is repaired. At worst, internal and customer data is permanently lost. This typically happens when IT equipment dies, such as a server, exchange, or database. It's also possible to physically lose equipment, from something small like a switch to everything. When all your servers are physically located with your business, the possibility of a disaster means you could lose everything if the data isn't backed up.

As devastating as all that could be to your business, there are ways to avoid this. Read on for our top tips on how to avoid an IT distaster.

1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of IT equipment, this means maintenance, updates, and testing. The goal here is to ensure you have good backup systems in place in the event that a restoration, or even a rebuild of equipment in neccessary. Without a data backup, in the event of an IT equipment failure your staff may not be able to access email or other data they need for a day or more, and worse, it may not be recoverable at all. And even with a backup in place, there should be daily monitoring of the server to make sure that all the data is indeed transferring correctly and spot any potential issues that may be coming down the road. Backup and redundant servers should be tested daily.

2. If you've taken the backup and monitoring steps, great! The next thing you'll need is a an IT disaster recovery plan, which should be tested quarterly or bi-annually. Essentially, this involves deliberately failing servers to ensure that your backups work as expected. This plan should be formally written and tested often. Bigger disaster recovery tests can be run once a year to bring all the systems down and make sure they can fail over.

3. Have an entirely separate IT backup recovery site in a different location than your existing IT equipment. That way, in event of a failure, this remote site will be unaffected in the event of a major disaster such as a flood. This requires separate equipment at a separate site, so costs are higher, but it might be something to build into your future budget if you haven't already. If you can't do this, consider at minimum having backup equipment on-ste that will automaitically come on in the event something fails, much like a generator would if the power goes out. At the very least, have spare equipment on-site that can be used to replace equipment in the event of an emergency.

As your business grows, so does the need to insure your data against loss and/or inaccessibility. If you follow these tips, you won't have to worry about the worst happening.

Have you ever experienced an IT disaster, and if so how did you recover? Tell us in the comments!