Imagine you’re in the path of a natural disaster — such as a massive storm or fire or earthquake. Or a malicious cyberattack, from external sources or a disgruntled employee, hits your business. How confident are you that your business can quickly rebound after such a disaster and continue operation?

This type of threat must be respected, as it could wipe out all your data. Small businesses are extremely vulnerable. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency notes that following a disaster, 90 percent of small businesses fail within a year unless they can resume operations within 5 days post-disaster.

That is an alarming statistic. But with good planning, all businesses can have a solid disaster recovery process and resume operations quickly, with all critical data and systems safe and secure.

The cloud is key In many ways, data recovery after a disaster is an extension of the data backup, redundancy and access protocols all businesses should have in place. For some businesses, this means all data and software programs needed to process that data are backed up (preferably, in multiples) in a secure location or locations physically removed from the place of business.

For multi-location operations, that redundancy can be built into the everyday data infrastructure. If a location goes down due to a disaster, employees at the location can relocate to a temporary site and are able to access the existing backup.

Single-location businesses can maintain off-site servers with backup data, and set up recovery through data maintained “in the cloud” on remote servers. In the case of external or internal data sabotage, even if the location is not physically destroyed, backup computers and networking may still need to be brought in order to access the backups.

A company’s IT consultant can establish data backup and retrieval strategies, including the inevitable trade-off between near-instant recovery (which is costly) and more affordable approaches. Other factors to consider include overall size of the business, the nature of its transactions, number of business locations and employees, and customer requirements. Best practices call for both a local physical backup and a cloud (virtual) backup.

Getting back to business
Now that your data is secure, you can get back to work. Fortunately, many workers already work remotely and will be comfortable working from varied locations post-disaster. Options for re-establishing a new physical headquarters include renting space at a hotel or office center; or working at a partner business.

The emergency response plan should include protocols for activating the data backup, whether company-maintained or through a cloud-computing vendor; staff responsibilities; communications to customers and strategic partners; and, depending on scale of the incident, a media communications plan.

Today, the grapevine speaks at the speed of the Internet; so don’t leave your customers and contacts guessing about your ability to recover from the disaster, or you could risk losing clients.

While the thought of being hit by this type of disaster can be scary, a strong disaster recovery plan can help business owners sleep better at night and ensure they will be able to persevere, no matter what happens. Just like life insurance, it’s something you don’t want to think about, but it’s a policy that you need to have in place for your business.

Kelly Siegel is CEO of National Technology Management (NTM), 30400 Telegraph Road, Suite 116, in Bingham Farms. He has been in the IT consulting business for 21 years and saved businesses millions of dollars by streamlining their technology systems. NTM can be reached at 248-658-0829, and Siegel can be reached via email at