Plan Now, Worry Less After: Make a Post-Emergency Punch List

Download PDF

When is the best time for your and your team to prepare a post-disaster to-do list? Hint: It’s not during the hurricane.

Preparing for a disaster before it happens saves you time during a crisis—and besides, who really wants to be writing a high-level to-do list of critical items in the wake of, say, an F5 tornado?

Yes, it’s one of the many information management best practices that holds up well to repetition: The best time to draw up your post-disaster punch list for data recovery and business continuity is not while floodwaters swirl around your ankles, or the firemen are pulling out of the parking lot.

Here’s how to write this all-important document. (Then put it in a safe place and hope you’ll never have to look at it again.)

Flashlight? Check. Batteries? Check...

You’ve invested heavily in data backup—and your backup tapes play an important part when you’re ready to restore business operations. But the planning shouldn’t end there. What steps must you take in the wake of a disaster to ensure a smooth return trip to a fully operative enterprise? Your checklist should clarify those data recovery tasks and identify which staff will assume what chores to get your business information flowing once again.

Collaborate with your offsite backup partner.

The better plan includes your vendor’s take on how to best enact a recovery plan. In fact, it’s more than likely that your vendor has already experienced the kind of post-disaster recovery for which you’re planning.

Recruit and instruct your in-house disaster response team.

Designate responsibilities for each employee (no slackers allowed) in the event of a business interruption. Within this group, a core team should form the first line of defense against further damage and outages.

Establish communications alternatives.

Particularly after a hurricane or an earthquake, some communications infrastructures may be impacted. In this instance, cell phones, Wi-Fi service or walkie-talkies may be able to maintain your connection with your internal tech team and backup storage vendor.

Notify employees.

Reach out to employees as soon as possible, via multiple means of communication, to issue their post-disaster marching orders. If transit systems or roads are affected, some employees may not be able to report for work. For this reason, your plan should accommodate a skeleton crew at the work site while also specifying work-at-home options. Don’t forget to indicate for which positions the company permits temporary staffing.

Choose alternative locations.

As part of the planning, your company should designate an offsite location from which to operate, in case your offices are heavily damaged.

Inventory the damage.

Your disaster recovery team should evaluate the disaster’s effects, including its most significant problems and the “next steps” needed to address them.

Assess assets.

You may have a hard time seeing past the physical devastation. But in all likelihood, some of your equipment, facilities and operations have survived. Determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Restore data.

Your vendor partner should ensure a smooth recovery—whether than means transporting tapes to your facilities or handling restoration online. But restored operations are only as good as your latest data backup. If your company backed up incomplete or corrupt data, or didn’t verify your backup vendor’s receipt of what you sent to its facility, you may have some significant information holes to patch.

Determine gaps and shortcomings.

No plan is foolproof. Once new operations are under way, you may notice what’s missing from your disaster recovery plans. Take notes and assign the resources to deal with those gaps.

Compare the new and old operations.

Operations before and after a disaster can differ greatly. It may be a long time—if ever—before things get back to “normal.”

Your Partner: A Port in the Storm

A trusted backup storage partner stands with your company when the unexpected occurs. Your partner should be intimately aware of your needs and provide a safe, secure haven for your tapes. The company should also confirm that it can restore data—regardless of what software was used to back it up to tape. By safely transporting your tapes to and from its facilities, cataloging data and enforcing your policies, a vendor partner not only protects the Chain-of-Custody but ensures that the data you’ve targeted for recovery will be activated when and where you need it.

Still not rushing to write your disaster plan? Just think: If Dorothy had put together a post-emergency checklist (“Secure Toto as storm approaches; Take refuge in root cellar…”), she might never have needed those ruby slippers to return to Kansas.

Iron Mountain Suggests:
Your company will benefit after a disaster if you:

  1. Back up data necessary to the recovery. Regular, complete tape backup of data critical to your company’s operations will ensure that you have what you need to get up and running again.
  2. Adopt a rigorous disaster recovery scheme and test it. Prepare for disruptions with a well-thought-out plan, and be sure to test it. Many companies come up with the scenario but then never go through a dry run before disaster strikes.
  3. Team with an expert. Managing, storing and restoring data on tape requires resources and expertise. A trusted partner can offer both, plus top-notch products, services and facilities to protect and access tapes.

Do you have more questions about data backup and recovery options? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup & Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your information management challenges.

Post-Disaster Essentials

Are you ready to face these tasks?

  • Restoring data to get your business up and running
  • Mobilizing a disaster response team
  • Keeping communications open
  • Putting your disaster recovery plan into motion

Disaster Recovery 101: Doing the Homework

Tackle these tasks before a crisis occurs:

  • Create and test a disaster recovery plan
  • Staff an in-house disaster response team
  • Gather contact information for employees, vendors and customers
  • Back up critical data and store it on tape
  • Select an offsite location to set up recovery efforts
  • Compare current business operations with likely post-disruption work scenarios