A-Z of Computing – D is for Disaster!

D is actually for disaster recovery, but that doesn’t make such an attention grabbing headline!

A few years ago I’d have said disaster recovery was only important for businesses – but with so much school and university work being completed electronically, it’s become essential for home users too. What counts as a disaster may be very different – from an office flood or flu pandemic affecting a business, to an A-level student whose laptop containing her coursework has just died, but both can cause immense amounts of stress.

As this is a brief guide, not an in-depth plan, I’ve simplified it to two essential steps to disaster recovery for both home and business users:

GMT Solutions: D is for Disaster Recovery1) Can you access your information?

Your information may be e-mails, internet banking to pay the bills, coursework files, or critical business files. Some of these may be online anyway – most users could access e-mail by webmail instead of Outlook/Apple Mail, your internet banking will be online – but you may need a record of passwords, or access to your e-mail to be able to reset passwords. Other information is a bit trickier – please see my previous article on backups!

For most home users, a USB stick or online backup (e.g. Dropbox) would be adequate. If you’re a business, I highly recommend an off-site backup, as if your office is unavailable, this will include not just your computers but servers and office-based backups on external hard drives, tapes etc. It doesn’t need to be complicated, moving a backup off-site could be as simple as taking your backup drive home each night, or backing up your data online so it could be accessed from any PC with the right details.

2) Have you got something to access the information on?

Can you buy or borrow a spare PC or laptop? If you’re a home user, you could make use of computers at school or your local library (Newent Library have some available for public use). Replacement equipment will be more expensive for businesses as they’re likely to need multiple PCs plus printers and potentially production equipment depending on what the business does and the nature of the disaster. GMT Solutions have loan equipment available by arrangement – but this stage is where a disaster recovery plan comes into play. This would cover being able to access data, equipment, a place to work, and planning on how to restore business as usual.

If you would like a quick chat about disaster recovery or anything else IT related, or a consultation to address a formal disaster recovery plan, please contact us on [email protected].