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Top 10 backup tips for your natural disaster recovery plan checklist

Your natural disaster recovery plan checklist needs the right data backup procedures. Here are 10 guidelines that can help save your data in the event of a disaster.

Some natural disasters, such as hurricanes, can be forecast ahead of time. This gives you advance warning, so you can be prepared by having your critical systems and data protected from possible disruption. 

Outcomes from severe weather can be unpredictable, however, such as with wind damage from tornadoes and flooding and mudslides from heavy downpours. So, make sure your natural disaster recovery plan checklist has the proper backup elements.

Unpredictable natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions and tsunamis, can cause as much damage as predictable disasters, so you must always be ready for such events, especially if you live and work in areas with a history of disaster.

In these kinds of situations, rule No. 1 is to back up systems and data more frequently than you might do otherwise. You don't necessarily need to change your backup technology, but it may be appropriate to revise the frequency. For example, if you perform incremental backups once a day and a full backup weekly, it might make sense to increase the frequency of incremental backups to hourly.

That may necessitate a change in your backup equipment and network bandwidth to absorb the more frequent backups, but your data will be better protected and more likely available if your main location becomes unavailable as a result of a natural disaster. 

A natural disaster, especially one that disrupts your business, can occur almost anywhere. Thus, it behooves you to err on the side of prudence. If it does not affect your backup resources or monthly costs, it's worth it to back up your information assets more often than needed.

Following are some tips for your natural disaster recovery plan checklist to ensure you are backed up and ready for both unexpected and forecasted scenarios. 

1. If possible, locate data backup resources in an area geographically distant from your primary office. This can be with a cloud-based service or a co-located backup resource in a third-party facility.

2. If you only back up data locally, consider buying removable high-capacity storage devices that can store critical backup and you can take out of the office in an emergency.

Make sure your natural disaster recovery plan checklist has the proper backup elements.

3. If your current backup storage site is local to your main office -- in the same disaster zone -- consider a cloud backup platform only for the most critical systems and data the firm needs to operate in an emergency. A business impact analysis (BIA) can help you identify those critical resources.

4. If you know the systems and data at the greatest risk to the organization in a natural disaster, consider increasing the backup frequency for only those assets, maintaining the normal backup schedules for other less critical resources.

5. If you are already using cloud-based resources to manage your IT infrastructure, such as software as a service, disaster recovery as a service or backup as a service, reexamine your operating parameters and see if there are any potential improvements to ensure your critical assets are as up to date as possible.

6. Review your recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives to make sure they are aligned with effects from potential severe threats. As part of your natural disaster recovery plan checklist, it may be necessary to revisit risk assessments and BIAs to see if these metrics need to be adjusted. If they are adjusted, the next step is to determine their impact on your backup and storage requirements.

7. When examining your backup requirements in light of a natural disaster, examine your network resources to ensure you have sufficient bandwidth to absorb any increases in data traffic resulting from increased backup activity.

8. Periodically test your backed-up systems and data to be sure they can be quickly and securely accessed in a disaster situation. Testing should be performed at least annually -- preferably more often if you are in a potential disaster zone.

9. Update your backup plans, disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans to accommodate changes in your system and data backup activities.

10. Monitor your backup activities regularly to ensure the systems are backing up data properly, and perform spot tests to make sure everything is working properly.

Following the 10 steps above will aid your natural disaster recovery plan checklist, helping to ensure your critical systems and data are ready to go in an emergency and that the data will be as current as possible.

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