Face it—downtime is depressing, difficult and downright dumb. You can’t afford to lose business, customers and your reputation because of failed computer systems. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC).

Almost every business depends on secure, reliable computer systems. It doesn’t matter if you’re a retail establishment, an online business or a service provider. You rely on technology in order to perform everyday functions.

The Costs of Downtime

The cost of downtime is significant. In this Internet-connected age, most companies lose money when systems are down. Customers cannot order products, so they go elsewhere for services. It’s also difficult to communicate with people when your e-mail and web sites are inaccessible. Downtime hurts your competitiveness. Eventually your company’s reputation can be damaged.

This is why Business Continuity is so much more important than simple Disaster Recovery practices. You want to prevent downtime instead of recovering from it.

So, what’s the difference?

Disaster Recovery is simply one part of Business Continuity. The word “disaster” indicates a situation where continuity has been broken. If you are recovering from a disaster, your computer systems are down. Your business information systems essentially failed. Typical disruptions include planned, unplanned, intentional and unintentional events. A backhoe can snap a telecom line at a nearby construction site, for example. Malware or viruses might take down your local network.

Business Continuity describes the way you eliminate disruptions. That’s the big difference between DR and BC. When hard drives, servers or networks fail, BC practices ensure that duplicate systems are in place. When downtime occurs, BC systems instantly switch to copies of the same data you have been using all along. Users don’t even notice the switch.

Smart Business Continuity Solutions

These days you have several options to help keep your computers running and your information available 24/7. Storage solutions that contain backedup, redundant hard drives, like Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) storage devices, help you recover in failure situations. Your users never see that a drive failed. Their data and applications are always available, even if hardware breaks. Similarly, modern networking technologies protect organizations from networking failures. Both these hardware solutions help you maintain business continuity when things break.

Many companies don’t have the latest hardware and software installed, however. It’s important to upgrade your systems in order to take advantage of the new solutions. You need to have a plan for dealing with natural disasters, hackers, viruses, legal threats and new rules governing data protection.

3 Business Continuity Considerations

Here are some key areas to examine:

1. Consider how important computer systems are to your bottom line. Do you rely on an internet connection for payment? If you lost your customer database, would that immediately impact your business?

2. Pay attention to your storage habits. Make sure all critical data is backed up to a central server in your office AND in another physical location. Your best option for offsite storage usually is a “cloud” backup solution such as “I.T. Responsive Data Secure”.

3. Think about installing a local NAS or SAN device that has several copies of your data on separate disks. Many of these devices now also have built-in cloud backup solutions. Ultimately, the data and applications you use to run your business need to be protected. Consider them vital organs to the health of your business.

Client Spotlight: Chemi-Source Nightmare

I.T. Responsive recently received a call from a new customer Chemi-Source regarding software problems. By the time our technician arrived on-site, the server had failed. ITR found that the server had a failed drive for over 2 months before the second drive failed. Their previous solution provider had no clue. Luckily Chemi-Source did have a back up, but only a file level backup (basic disaster recovery). It took two days recovering the data and getting the server back online. Now with I.T. Responsive managed services, Chemi-Source is notified of any hardware failures before it becomes a critical problem and their new business continuity solution allows for recovery in minutes instead of days.