The worst disaster recovery plan a business can have is no disaster recovery plan at all. Business disasters come in many forms, from digital attacks to power outages to natural disasters. According to government statistics, 40% of the businesses that shut down due to a natural disaster never reopen, and of those that do reopen, 25% fail within a year. It’s impractical to say that every one of those businesses would have survived with a viable disaster recovery plan, but it’s absolutely reasonable to say that strong disaster recovery plans help keep companies open and minimize losses during and after disasters.
When we talk about different disaster recovery options, there are three types of recovery sites that you should know about: hot, cold, and warm sites.
A hot recovery site is basically a fully functioning replication of your current business data. All servers and networks are in place, all data is available, and in some cases, you even have office space available. Should disaster strike your primary location, all you have to do is get people to your secondary location and you’re back to business.
A cold site is, logically, the opposite of a hot site. It has no infrastructure in place and no data backups. In some cases, it’s just rented office space that has tech capabilities and temperature control. To get up and running in a cold site, you would have to bring in hardware, connect it, and reinstall data and programs.
A warm site is somewhere in the middle of these two options. It may have some infrastructure in place, but your data would need to be brought in and the site would need to be brought up to full speed before you would be able to resume business operations.
What’s right for your business?
Choosing what type of site is appropriate for your business has a lot to do with how much downtime your company can tolerate. For many tech-centric online companies, any amount of downtime is unacceptable. Some companies calculate the cost of their downtime as more than half a million dollars an hour. If a day of downtime costs more than running an expensive hot site, a hot site is still a reasonable cost.
If your business can tolerate being out of commission for a day or two, however, using a cold site might be completely appropriate. A warm site can also be a good hybrid approach, where certain mission critical operations are ready to go in just a few hours if necessary, but the bulk of business operations will be available within a day or so.
Whatever type of disaster recovery site you choose, make sure it’s located in an appropriate space. Having a hot site set up in your building, or even on the other side of town, isn’t safe or useful for your business. Your site should be far enough away that a physical disaster – a hurricane, major flood, or a power outage, for example – at your primary location won’t affect your recovery site.
The speed at which you can recover cloud-based information can also play a role in choosing what type of recovery site is appropriate for you. After all, if you’re basically running your business through virtual machines in cloud operations, all you need is an active internet connection and a viable computer to get back to business; no transporting of tape backups required.
If you’re not sure what type of disaster recovery site is best for your business, the right choice is to consult with an expert in disaster recovery. They can help you figure out what’s mission critical for your business, how much downtime you can tolerate, and the best way to get your business running again in the event of a disaster.