Posts Tagged ‘disaster-recovery’

10 Steps to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan for SMBs

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 by billp | No Comments

When we hear the word “disaster,” our minds immediately shift to major natural events such as earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, etc. We rarely think about the smaller disasters that could cripple a small business – extended power outages, a blizzard that affects employees’ ability to get to their office, fires, etc. Most importantly, we often think of disasters as something that happens to someone else… until it happens to us.

According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), 43 per cent of businesses will not re-open following a major disaster. This alarming figure does not take into consideration the consequences of disasters that were not designated “major” disasters by the federal government, such as fires and power outages, which can be devastating to small and mid-sized businesses.

If you cannot get your business back online within 5 days of a disruption, the odds that your business will survive are about 10 percent. A survey of small businesses in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center at the time of the 1993 bombing found that of those businesses that could not resume their operations within five days, 90 per cent were out of business a year later.

Disaster recovery planning is a necessity for all small business owners. The hardest part about creating a disaster recovery plan is knowing what to do first. And, as business owners know, it is all in the execution.

To help bring some structure to the sometimes-overwhelming exercise of disaster recovery planning, we have put together a checklist to get you started, thereby enabling your good intentions to become operational. These steps will help you get started in a concrete way to help your business become safer… and more profitable!

Key #1: Understand the implications for your business.

Step 1. Start keeping a “disaster diary”.

Begin to keep a log of disruptions to your normal operations. Gathering this information is the first step to identifying recurring patterns. The idea is not to point fingers at employees who make mistakes; rather, it is to improve your processes.

Step 2. Identify potential threats to your business.

Consider the potential threats to include not only hazards arising from extreme weather but also the risks to your business’ reputation should you be unable to safeguard confidential information of your customers.

Key #2: Keep employees safe and informed.

Step 3.  Develop a plan to communicate with your employees in the event of disruption.

Organize a list of primary and secondary emergency contact information for each of your employees. As a disaster may prevent employees from returning to their homes, make sure you have alternate contact information for each employee.

Step 4. Preserve important employee records.

Your business is entrusted with certain confidential records of your employees, such as their personal identifying information and social security numbers. Work with your IT advisor to make sure the information is secure and accessible.

Key #3: Keep customers engaged and informed.

Step 5.  Develop a plan to communicate with your customers in the event of a disruption.

Consider preparing a statement that can be published on your website and social media platforms in the event of an emergency to give customers timely status updates as to what they can expect from your business and when.

Step 6. Protect sensitive customer data.

Make sure that any information of your customers (patient records if you are operating in a medical practice, financial records, trade secrets, etc.) is safe from cyber-criminals.

Key #4. Ensure continuity of operations.

Step 7.  Determine how you will operate your business remotely.

Consider which operations of your business you will be able to run should you not have access to your regular place of work. Define your business priorities by identifying your critical operations.

Step 8. Conduct periodic drills.

Test your continuity plan from time to time. It is important to keep your plan current and revise it for changes in your environment. It is equally important to verify that your employees are up-to-date on what to do in an emergency situation.

Key #5.  Address financial impact and readiness.

Step 9. Make sure your business has appropriate insurance coverage.

Verify that you have the necessary endorsements (or add-on’s) for your business, that you understand the deductibles for which you will be responsible and that you have appropriate coverage limits.

Step 10. Make sure you have access to the information you will need to file an insurance claim in a timely manner.

Have a digitized copy of your insurance policy stored in a way that you can access it in the event of an emergency. Don’t wait for an emergency to learn the procedures for filing a claim. You need to learn them now.

Key #6. Take advantage of the experts at Colden Company

Colden Company is certified by the Disaster Recovery Institute as Certified Business Continuity Professionals.  Our customers benefit from our years of experience assisting customers in preparing comprehensive business continuity, disaster recovery, and disaster avoidance plans. Our approach is a top-down approach where we examine the critical business functions first and work down to the supporting systems, hardware, and personnel.

Among the many additional services associated with disaster recovery are off-site backup or cloud backup, which we offer starting for as little as $19.00/month. We also offer complete local or cloud server recovery, also very affordable for small and mid-size business, which can have your entire business back online and working in hours instead of weeks (or longer). Do you have laptops in the field that need backup? Critical servers that need a quick recovery time? We’ll listen to your needs and provide the right solution to fit your business needs.

Colden Company is a proud Elite Partner (the highest level of partnership) of Datto, Inc. See how a Datto Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) device managed by Colden Company can enhance your data security and give your business true disaster recovery capabilities. At Colden Company, we have been in the BDR business for many years. See why our partnership with Datto is the BDR solution you can count on!

From process and procedures down to implementation, Colden Company is the only partner you need to keep your business in business in a time of need. Contact us today to make sure your business doesn’t become a statistic. Call us at 888-600-4560, email us, or see us on Facebook or Twitter.







Are You Preparing for a Disaster or Just Backing Up?

Posted on: May 31st, 2013 by billp | No Comments

Superheroes need it, police rely on it, and any business that uses computers (are there any that don’t these days?) should use some form of it. It’s called backup and it can mean the difference between a brief computer-related setback and restarting your business from scratch.

Backup, in simple terms, is creating an exact copy of your business data that can be recreated at a later date. So-called “traditional backup” to tape, hard disk, or even cloud services are great for quickly recovering a few files when an employee makes a mistake. If you haven’t felt relieved that you have solid, reliable backups or felt the pain of not having reliable backups, someday you will!

However, there is a huge difference between traditional backup and business continuity or disaster recovery. True, you need to restore a file from time to time and your traditional backups get the job done. But what if you experience a complete hard drive failure, server failure, extended power outage, fire, natural disaster, etc.? At this point we have to have a serious talk about Recovery Time Objective (RTO), or how long you can tolerate being without access to your business information. Your tape or disk-based backups are going to disappoint you in this scenario. To get back up to a fully-operational state using traditional backups can take days if not weeks after a major failure, be it technological or natural. Depending on how critical this data is to your business, this could potentially lead to losing clients, revenue, or in a worst case scenario, being forced to close your doors for good.

Consider this simplified equation: (company revenue + wage bill) x downtime hours.  That’s how much money a business loses during downtime, and that adds up faster than you’d think. Businesses need to stop thinking about backup and start thinking in terms of business continuity. When full business continuity is achieved, it fully prepares a business to not only recover from a disaster, but also protects the business from the adverse effects of that disaster – especially the financial losses.

Implementing business continuity practices ensures that the appropriate people have access to critical business functions – customers, suppliers, managers, and systems that a business needs in order to function and generate revenue.  This is why business continuity cannot be achieved simply through one solution or technology. There is still an intrinsic human element involved in business continuity. Necessary planning and processes need to be put in place in order for a business to fully recover. For more on business continuity planning as a business practice, see our Business Continuity Planning blog post from December 2012.

Businesses must plan their business continuity strategy on two fronts: planning for how to continue business processes in the event of disaster, and choosing the appropriate business continuity solution to support these processes.

A Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) appliance and service is a business continuity solution that supports the continuation of business processes in the event of a disaster far better than traditional backup. Colden Company offers BDR solutions that are leaps and bounds beyond what traditional backup can offer your business. Consider some of the following differences between traditional backup and BDR.

Traditional Backup: Can take weeks to recover data after a disaster occurs.
BDR: Downtime after a disaster is reduced to hours, minutes, or even seconds – run your business off virtual machine(s) on the appliance quickly.

Traditional Backup: High risk for human error due to heavy manual administration.
BDR: Fully-automated and monitored backup process—very little manual management required.

Traditional Backup: Time-consuming and expensive to make copies of backups or to store backups in multiple locations.
BDR: Each backup is saved in multiple locations: local appliance and bi-coastal data centers.

Traditional Backup: No redundant backups in multiple locations, leaving high risk for original backup systems to be destroyed.
BDR: Eliminates downtime in the event of a disaster by allowing your business to run off a secure cloud over the Internet – completely restored, 100% secure.

Traditional Backup: Limited options for encrypting data, may not pass industry regulations (i.e., HIPAA, SOX).
BDR: AES 256 and SSL key-based encryption ensures data is safe and meets industry regulations (ie. HIPAA, SOX).

Traditional Backup: When recovering data, tape failure rates exceed 50%.
BDR: Minimal risk of corrupted backups or data loss due to multiple integrity checks.

Traditional Backup: Potential for theft or loss of media.
BDR: Off-site backups stored in SSAE 16 data centers.

Business that rely on their electronic data must realize that traditional backup is not all the protection they need. To be fully-prepared for a disaster and achieve a state of readiness for real business continuity at very affordable pricing, talk to Colden Company about BDR. Contact us today at (888) 600-4560 or at info@coldencomany.com, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter and let us help you protect your business for years to come.







Are Your Backups Working?

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by jiml | No Comments

In the simplest terms, a successful data recovery from a backup system requires two conditions.

  • Is the data you need on the backup?
  • Is it restorable?

At Colden Company Inc. we are Certified Business Continuity Specialists and we have assisted in many recoveries and, just as critically, we have been involved in helping many businesses plan to avoid a disaster.  The best way to avoid a situation where you cannot recover from a disaster is to avoid the disaster in the first place. It is not possible, of course, to prevent every disaster. External natural disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are obvious ones, and cyber security threats – which we are seeing in ever increasing numbers – are another. Even though we cannot prevent the hurricane or prevent the hacking attempt, we can mitigate the risk by taking measures to secure our critical data and assets.

These points seem like common sense to most of us.  There are things we can do to protect our businesses. The fact is, however, that many businesses do not take the necessary precautions. Take the very basic two conditions for a successful recovery. When is the last time your business evaluated its critical data to ensure the data it needs is indeed being backed up?  Is there a regular mechanism in place to account for changes and new data?

Looking at the second condition, when is the last time your business tested its backups to ensure that recovery is even possible?  These are very basic steps every business should take, yet surprisingly many do not.

At Colden Company Inc. we believe the reason for this is twofold: responsibility and a sense of urgency. Every organization should have someone in charge of these tasks. Bear in mind that the IT professional may not know what the business leaders deem as critical data.  You may want to appoint someone from your business unit as the responsible party.  If there is a responsible party, the simple tasks of testing backups and reviewing the critical data may still go unfinished. If your business knew a disaster was coming, the effort would be there to prepare.  Unfortunately, we don’t always know when a disaster will strike.  This underscores the importance of putting forth the effort and creating that sense of urgency to get the necessary tasks done.

According to Microsoft, 42% of tape based restores failed.  If you are not periodically testing your restore process, are you one of the 42%? There are myriads scary statistics about the percentage of businesses that fail as a result of being unable to recover critical data. Why take the chance when there are simple, repeatable processes that can ensure your business avoids those pitfalls? 

Have we helped to create that sense of urgency?  Call Colden Company Inc. today and let us help ensure that your business is not one of the 42%. We can be reached at (888) 600-4560, at info@coldencompany.com, see us on Facebook (and like us!) or on Twitter (@coldenco).







Business Continuity Planning

Posted on: November 28th, 2012 by jiml | No Comments

Business Continuity Planning is unfortunately brought to the forefront of our minds when tragedies like Hurricane Sandy strike. Most importantly, our best wishes go out to all of the people affected by the storm. Once the immediate urgency of the disaster has subsided, the conversation inevitably turns to analysis of how to be better prepared.

Instead of focusing on the “what ifs”, we will focus on the “why” in this posting.  Steve Covey noted in his best seller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that human nature is to concentrate on activities that are both important and urgent.  Certainly recovering from a disaster falls into that category but in our day to day activities these urgent and important activities can come from a variety of areas and may include tasks like getting that RFP out by the deadline or getting payroll out the door. These types of activities are called Quadrant I activities by Covey as is described in the illustration below.

Covey goes on to point out that truly effective people spend the bulk of their time working in Quadrant II, not Quadrant I or III as most people do.  These are important but not yet urgent activities. Spending time on these types of issues often prevent those issues from becoming urgent by addressing them proactively.  Business Continuity planning falls into this category. Covey laments that too many of us allow human nature to dictate our actions and we do not act as effectively as we could.

If you have been affected by a disaster, you already know the importance of preparation.  According to a study done by the Insurance Information Institute 40% of businesses that suffer a major disaster will fail. That figure is 25% according to a similar study by the Small Business Administration.  It is unfortunate that often times a disastrous event is what triggers preparation for the next event. Disasters can come in many shapes and sizes, not just natural disasters. Our reliance on the power grid has been underscored recently but alternatively perhaps your business relies on a specific person too heavily.  The loss of that critical person could constitute a disaster for your business. (consider Key Person insurance) The point we are making is that every business has risks and the preparedness of a business correlates directly to the amount of forethought provided by the company management. (not just the IT staff)

At Colden Company Inc. we are Certified Business Continuity Planners and we can advise on a number of issues including helping develop contingency plans for your business. The process begins not with technical conversations but by developing the mindset and ultimately developing the effective habits inside your business to focus on the important and necessary (although not yet urgent) work. Many of you will read this and agree that business continuity planning is important.  The question is “Where will you spend your time today?”. Will you work on Quadrant II activities like planning or on Quadrant I or III activities? Be an effective leader and reach out to us at (888) 600-4560, at info@coldencompany.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@coldenco).







Is Your Safe Safe?

Posted on: July 31st, 2012 by jiml | 2 Comments

I can remember a recent visit to a customer location, where the business owner proudly showed me his brand new, (and expensive I might add) fireproof safe he bought to store his company’s critical data.  A quick look at it and I exclaimed “no good!”  Imagine his devastation that his new, beautiful safe was not adequately protecting the valuable data he was storing inside of it.  Safes have varying fire ratings which tell you whether or not the safe is rated for paper storage or backup media storage.  At temperatures where paper will remain intact, media will melt and become unusable.

Here are the ratings you should look for:

125         Rating for backup tape media, DVD and floppy disks

150         Rating for backup media and DVD

350         Rating for paper only

375         Older standard for paper only

The numbers indicate what the internal temperature of the safe will heat up to in a sustained fire.  The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) determines the temperature of a sustained fire for the purposes of testing and rating these safes.

In addition to the temperature rating, you will also see a time rating, such as ½ hr or 1 hr.  This is how long that safe will remain at or below the temperature rating during a sustained fire.  Obviously a 1 hr rating will give you better protection than a ½ hr rating.

Some safes will also have ratings for burglary protection if that is a concern. Ratings typically have a TL, TR, or TX rating plus a time component much like the fire standards.  The time component is often measured in minutes, like a 15 or 30 as opposed to the fire ratings which are based on the hour.

TL            Stands up against prying tools, drills, etc

TR           Stands up against torches

TX           Stand up against explosives

My advice to businesses is to concentrate on getting the fire rating that you need first and foremost.  The second piece of advice, while sounding like a sales pitch, is really the voice of experience talking.  Buy a safe a bit larger than you think you may need initially.  You will always find more items to place in the safe in the future.  The larger fireproof safes are often very heavy and difficult to move or steal, so we advise you to worry about the burglary protection last.

So, is your safe safe?  Are you adequately protecting your businesses critical data?  Contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com or see us on Facebook or Twitter (@coldenco) if you want to be sure you have the fireproof safe that your business needs.







Disaster Preparedness

Posted on: August 29th, 2011 by jiml | No Comments

As recent events have reminded us, disasters can strike at any time. Earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia as well as the arrival of hurricane season and Hurricane Irene should provide plenty of motivation to review your organizations’ disaster preparedness plans.  Even if you already have a detailed plan, it should be reviewed regularly to account for changes in your organizations processes and/or systems.

If your organization does not have any documented plans, you don’t have an adequate plan. Remember that disaster preparedness is not just an IT function.  It is a business function.  The IT staff can help provide redundancy for technology systems but creating the alternate business processes requires the shared input of the management of your organization.

Colden Company Inc. is certified by the Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) as a Certified Business Continuity Planner.  The DRI provides the following high-level outline for your organization:

  • Program Initiation
  • Rick Evaluation
  • Business Impact Analysis
  • Business Continuity Strategies
  • Emergency Response
  • Business Continuity Plans
  • Awareness and Training
  • Plan Testing and Maintenance
  • Crisis Communication
  • Coordination with External Agencies

Certainly, following the above outline will result in a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan. Smaller organizations may wish to use a more informal process of determining acceptable downtime (recovery time objective) and identifying critical systems that need to be recovered (recovery point objective).  Research what your actual recovery time would be versus what you have identified as your recovery time objective for your critical systems.  If you are within the time frame, document your plan and you have a plan that works for your organization.  If not, your organization is at risk and should investigate its options.

Improvements in technology can greatly benefit businesses in meeting these objectives.  Recovery solutions such as hot-spare and image-based solutions – that in the past had been reserved for the deep pockets of larger enterprises – are now affordable for the SMB market. Have you looked at these technologies lately?  Are you confident in your organization’s disaster preparedness plans?  If you answered no to either of these questions, please contact us toll-free at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter and let us help you identify technologies that may fit your needs.




Next-Generation BDR from HEROware

Posted on: April 29th, 2011 by billp | No Comments

Your business relies on many things to run efficiently on a daily basis. Information and the systems that store that information have become vital to the running of today’s modern business. Protecting that information from disasters is crucial. Consider a complete loss of all of your business’ key computer systems and data, then consider how long you could operate in the event of such a loss. How much data loss is acceptable? How long can your business afford to be down?

Gartner estimates that only 35% of SMBs have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place. According to a recent NFIB National Small Business Poll, man-made disasters affect 10% of small businesses, whereas natural disasters have impacted more than 30% of all small businesses in the USA. Hurricanes are by far the most destructive force causing power failure, flooding, customer loss, and the closure of many businesses. According to a recent Touche Ross study, the survival rate for companies without a disaster recovery plan is less than 10%!

Colden Company takes its customers data security very seriously. In order to provide its customers with the best products possible for backup and disaster recovery (BDR), Colden is very proud to announce that it has partnered with HEROware, Inc., a backup and disaster recovery innovator based in San Clemente, CA.

HEROware produces a unique line of unified server protection solutions. The series features the HERO-Defender™ onsite server replication appliance and HERO-Cloud™, for the utmost in disaster recovery. These highly-scalable systems highlight not only data security, they bring to reality the ability to protect the total computing environment, including: servers running Microsoft operating systems, all applications, and both file server and desktop data stores. HERO-Defender™ coupled with HERO-Cloud™, provide disaster-proof high availability with automatic failover and quick & easy recovery. Best of all, HEROware provides these typically enterprise-class levels of availability and recoverability with support, maintenance, and pricing that are targeted specifically for small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) without any of the complexity that usually accompanies such solutions.

Key features of the HERO-Defender™ products include

  • Real-time backup continuity
  • Real-time replication – back up files the minute they change
  • Real-time instant fail-over
  • Real-time replication to the HERO-Cloud™, protecting your data from local disasters
  • Byte-level replication technology that is five times faster than other replication technologies
  • Powered by Double-Take technology, protecting over 250,000 servers worldwide for 20 years. Half of the Fortune 500 protect their data with Double-Take.
  • Security – SAS70-certified data centers (10 worldwide) with 256-bit AES encryption of your data

Protect your business’ data by using a best-of-breed solution from an innovative leader in the BDR product market. Let Colden Company and HEROware help you protect your business from disaster. Find out more by contacting us at 518-885-2857, toll-free at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter.