As was evident in the New York region last year after Hurricane Sandy, having a Disaster Recovery plan is critical for any business, large or small. But what level of Disaster Recovery is needed for a small business? In the late 1980s, the SHARE Technical Steering Committee and IBM described seven levels of Disaster Recovery as follows:
- Tier 0: No off-site data – Possibly no recovery
- Tier 2: Data backup with no hot site
- Tier 3: Data backup with a hot site
- Tier 4: Electronic vaulting
- Tier 5: Transaction integrity
- Tier 6: Zero or near-zero data loss
- Tier 7: Highly automated, business integrated solution
Not all of these levels are cost-effective or necessary for a small business to implement. A simpler and more practical way of looking at the Disaster Recovery options for your servers are:
- 0: Nightly Backup with backups kept on site
- 1: Nightly Backup with a backup copy physically taken off site next day
- 2: Nightly Backup directly to an external device at an offsite facility
- 3: Nightly Backup to a warm, duplicated site at an offsite facility
- 4: Near-time replication to an offsite facility using cloud services
Option 0 is not usually recommended because if water or fire damage occur onsite, there would be no contingency plan in place and all of your data could be lost. Option 1 allows for a data restore, but it relies on someone remembering to take the backup offsite each day either to their home or to a lockbox. Options 2 to 4 are the best to implement. Which of these three options? It depends on how quickly you need to access your data. Since Options 2 & 3 are backed up nightly, it is possible to lose up to a day’s worth of data.
The options listed above refer to the data on your servers. You can also back up individual workstations to the cloud. Many providers such as, Carbonite, MozyPro, CrashPlan and Backblaze provide this service for a reasonable fee.