Do you have a Disaster Recovery Plan?

I still remember a BAD trip I took many years ago – the one where I felt I needed to race to reach my next flight. While congratulating myself on making the flight, I decided to open my laptop, which I could not remember carrying with me…

…OMG, I left it on the previous flight. The airline staff found it and forwarded it to me about 3 days later, but in the meantime I was shattered. What was I going to do without it the next day? This was before there were any large USB disks. It was a feeling I never plan on having again.

On my current trip out of country – far, far away in Lagos, Nigeria, – it occurred to me, “What if …,” and the usual thousand scenarios of trouble flashed through my psyche.

But the one hypothetical scenario that struck a very tender cord was, “What if I lost my PC? What secrets would I be unleashing? What were the ramifications of losing this PC and/or my backup disk in a high-risk area? What was I thinking even bringing anything sensitive with me???”

It may be odd, but I planned for every possible issue otherwise, just like I would for any project. I knew I was going to a high-risk area. More risks meant more planning, more thoroughness. I required a very good Disaster Recovery (DR) plan.

I decided to assume the worst case for everything and brought a backup travel bag, secondary clothing, throw away razors, old socks…you get the picture. I also went through my computer bag (and was shocked at what I had accumulated)and reduced the clutter to an absolute minimum. Then I proceeded to add stuff that I just had to have with me: cameras and chargers. It felt like a cleanse, of sorts.

It was the PC that became the biggest decision. Did I absolutely need to bring it? I could just bring CDs, DVDs and USB Disks. The laptop contained so much personal information as well as some very important corporate secrets.

How was I going to ensure the laptop’s safety in a foreign land? My first thought was to never go anywhere without it. Second option – bring a laptop that was ‘clean’ of secrets…a new one! Problem solved.

I fantasized the clipping of a hidden remote control destruction device to the laptop…scratch that; not a good idea at airports.

To conclude, whenever I leave my office, I have a plan .. a personal Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan that I follow. I backup data and critical configuration files for each of the network servers to alternate servers, and then to USB disks. I take one of the USB disks with me; the others stay behind. I am confident in, and have TESTED, my DR several times. I know I can rebuild my entire network in a few hours at most, even if I have to go out and buy all new equipment. The most I have ever had fail is one computer, and the rebuild took an hour – the purchase of the replacement machine took a little longer.

NOW would be a good time to check YOUR Disaster Recovery plans, for both your business and  your personal computer/cell phone/PDA.

From David Egan

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