Disaster Recovery Best Practices: Finding Shelter From the Storm

Topics : Disaster Recovery

No one wants to think about a fire, flood or other disaster hitting their headquarters. But given these realities, an offsite records archive makes great sense. Here are five questions to ask a potential storage partner.



FAST FACT: 40% of companies that fail to recover data from a disaster within three days eventually go out of business, according to Iron Mountain’s report on Offsite Tape Vaulting.

DID YOU KNOW? Does your policy cover loss of business, loss of equipment, relocation expenses and data recovery? Review your insurance during disaster planning, says the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York.


Superstorm Sandy blasted much of the East Coast last October. Compounding the problems, government logjams delayed over $60 billion in federal relief for nearly three months. The upshot: You may have to go it alone to keep your business up and running.

When a storm like Sandy hits, you must be certain your records are already tucked safely away from the elements—because when disaster is already upon you, it’s too late to start packing. Even if you have sufficient storage room onsite, no single area can be disaster-proof. It’s time to look to offsite records storage.

The advantages of offsite records storage become crystal clear after a wide-ranging hurricane or earthquake: While neighboring businesses and individuals may lose everything, odds are that at least one copy of your records will survive, so your business will see another day.

Get Your Key Questions Answered

It’s easy to drag your feet about adding offsite records storage. There’s so much to consider. You might fear you’ll lose control and access to your valuable information, or that offsite storage may prove too costly.

If you need some assistance to get started, a reliable partner can help you:

  • Plan the shift, then help the move go smoothly by advising on regulatory requirements.
  •  Line up equipment and personnel should your facility become inoperable.
  • Rent only the storage space you need, saving money on a “pay as you go” basis. You can also save money if your provider employs high-density records centers that, true to their name, store more records per square foot.

When selecting an offsite storage partner, ask these five questions.

#1: How disaster-proof are your offsite facilities?
What does the perfect record-stashing location look like? One example: Iron Mountain’s main storage facility in western Pennsylvania occupies a former limestone mine 180 to 220 feet below the surface. It features full backup power, fire control, armed security and 24/7 operation—plus rock-steady temperature and complete humidity control.

#2: Do you maintain chain of custody for records?
When documents and data are delivered to a storage facility, your storage partner should provide provable chain of custody for each record.  

#3: What access controls and courier services do you provide?
An effective storage partner provides real-time lists of those authorized to access records to meet your security requirements. The partner can quickly initiate recovery and delivery of only those tapes you need, using a secure courier.

#4: Do you offer online audit and inventory management?
You shouldn’t be on your own when managing offsite records. A valued provider offers complete online audit and inventory for your records, tapes and media. This allows you to track the status and location of any record and change authorizations instantly.

#5: What sort of “hot site” and recovery services do you offer?
The ideal partner can help support your hot site facilities. Its team can deliver tapes to the duplicate site and provide online access to inventory information and data-restoration instructions. The provider can also aid in the onsite testing and analysis of your recovery plans.

Protection: Go Beyond Natural Disasters

Remember, the challenges aren’t solely from Mother Nature: Incorporating offsite storage into your records management program can help preserve data in the case of a power outage, equipment failure, and lost or misfiled records. Effective offsite storage can even help your business survive the rigors of legal discoveries or compliance audits.

Superstorm Sandy made it all too clear: Disaster knows no schedule. Don’t wait until you’re up to your knees in floodwater to start planning.


Preparing to Go Offsite

A trusted partner can help, but you should still be familiar with the basics for setting up an offsite data vault. The key is good planning combined with regular testing and verification. When you need the data, it will be there.

  • Maintain access. Build in access controls as you plan your offsite archive so files remain available to employees on demand.
  • Ensure data readability and integrity. Offsite archives do no good if you can’t read them because of out-of-date formats. Confirm yearly that you’re archiving data in readable, easily restored formats. Periodically migrate your data to current formats.

Test and verify. Regularly check your backups with full restoration to a test system that’s not connected to your office network. That way, any errors can’t overwrite critical data.


Do you have questions about information management? Read additional Knowledge Center Small Business resources, or contact Iron Mountain’s Small Business team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services Small Business specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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