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Q: Luckily, our area wasn’t affected by Hurricane Florence — but we might not be so lucky next time. What are some steps we can take to ensure that our SMBs have foolproof disaster recovery plans in place? 

Natural disasters can happen at any time, which is why it is best to take a proactive approach to protecting your customers’ data. In his book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu said, “Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” Nothing could be more accurate when it comes to drafting and devising disaster recovery plans for your customer.

Hurricane season is here again, and it serves as a reminder for many service providers of the importance of periodically reviewing business continuity and disaster recovery plans with their customers. To make sure that your customers’ business-critical data is well-protected, follow our simple four-step checklist.

1. Frequently test and recover customers’ recent backup sets.

 Before an approaching storm, check in with customers to make sure there aren’t any major changes to their current business continuity plan. Before calling them, look at their current backup reports to make sure they don’t have any existing issues. If you notice any failed backups or errors, address them now. Check to see how recently you ran a full backup. If some time has gone by some the last full backup, run a more recent backup to ensure all their data is backed up off-site. It is a good idea to perform a test restore to confirm that the data is fully recoverable.

In hurricane-prone areas, you’ll want to schedule backups more frequently throughout the season. This way, if a customer does fall victim to an equipment failure or outage, you’ll know that you have their most recent data available.

2. Start talking about storms before they are forecasted.

Once you’ve confirmed that your customers’ backups are up and running according to best practices, it’s time to get in touch with your customers. You may want to prioritize customers that you know are in higher risk locations. Set aside some time to discuss measures you can both take to safeguard their business and their recovery plan. A key part of recovery planning is to make sure you have an understanding of their required RTOs and RPOs and have a plan that will help meet them.

Having a check in gives both parties the opportunity to talk about any gaps in the plan or concerns they have about it.

3. Confirm their current data protection needs. 

Find out if anything has changed when it comes to their needs or requirements. For example, have they recently added any new applications or workstations that aren’t being backed up? 

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Show them what data sets you’ve been backing up and ask if there are any additional data sets they need to keep their business operational. A good way to identify these changes to their needs are by asking about what has evolved in their business recently. What areas have they grown in, hired in, and more?

4. Execute the plan — even if it isn’t a true emergency.

A plan is useless until it has been tested. After you’ve reviewed the plan, test it out with the customer. This will help identify any confusion over steps involved and who is responsible for what. It will also further uncover any gaps in the process, and give you an opportunity to further clarify any pieces of the plan accordingly.

Not only will the customer will feel more comfortable in a true emergency if the plan has been tested, but testing increases the odds that the plan will be as successful as it is intended to be.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place will allow you and your customers to feel comfortable when the next storm hits, whenever that might be. Even more importantly, it will ensure that their businesses are positioned to recover as gracefully as possible and that their business-critical data is safe.

Photo:  lavizzara / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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