Disaster Recovery Plan USVI

Despite how important disaster recovery is, many USVI businesses don’t have the right plan put in place because they don’t know where to begin. Check out these 8 straightforward steps to building a plan you can depend on.

Disaster – nobody wants to talk about it and to be honest, there’s not much need.

You’ve seen all the marketing ploys in your inbox and at trade shows. It’s all doom and gloom trying to convince you your whole world will go up in flames if you don’t start spending money on business continuity and disaster recovery right away.

Let’s skip all that – the reality of the potential for disaster in the Virgin Islands is considerable. Even two years after a pair of major hurricanes hit the Virgin Islands, they’re still working hard to repair the damage.

The fact is that effective disaster recovery is just about covering your bases. No need to assume the worst – just plan for it, so you know you’re covered. Because the fact is that it probably won’t be a hurricane or a freak accident. It’s far more likely you’ll lose some vital data because of human error, or something else small like that.

But with a little work, you can protect your USVI business against that.

What Are The 8 Steps To Building An Effective Emergency and Disaster Plan?

Remember – without comprehensive disaster recovery planning, you’re left vulnerable to any emergency situations, whether it’s a major meteorological event like a hurricane, or common — and still unpredictable — power outages.

Consequences include:

  • Permanent data loss as onsite copies of your data are destroyed
  • Severe downtime as your business scrambles to replace hardware and get up and running again
  • Major financial damages, from the cost of lost business to the cost of replacement hardware and more.

Here’s an eight-step checklist we use to ensure that a company’s computer network, and the data for that business, is safe and secure from loss and disruption:

1. Create a written recovery plan (and communicate with your staff).

Simply thinking through what needs to happen when things go south (and documenting it all ahead of time), can go a long way toward getting your network back up and running quickly if it gets hacked, affected by a natural disaster or compromised by human error.

Also, consider your communication procedures.

What if your employees can’t access your office, e-mail or phone system? How will they communicate with you? Make sure your communications plan details every alternative, including a number of ways to stay in touch in the event of a disaster.

2. Know your risks (and how you’ll be warned about them).

Floods, lightning, hurricanes, tornados, extreme heat, tsunamis, landslides, fires and wildfires…a few of these may seem highly unlikely, but the more detailed your list is, the better prepared your business will be.

Don’t wait until the floodwaters are at your door, or a tornado watch has been issued, or a wildfire is encroaching and emergency services are banging on your door with evacuation orders and it’s too late.

Local news and weather stations will be the most likely places to inform the immediate community, but these aren’t always the most accurate or reliable sources for information.

A “weather radio” is a great investment, and preferably one by NOAA: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from your closest National Weather Service station.

3. Maintain a checklist of survival resources.

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you have an inventory of all the hurricane-specific resources you’ll need.

These are the types of items you won’t be using otherwise year-round, and so, when you do require them, you don’t want to realize you’ve forgotten something.

  • Independently powered radio/TV
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food for as many employees as you have onsite (including 1 gallon of water per person per day)
  • Blankets, pillows, cots, and chairs
  • First Aid supplies
  • Flashlights (and additional batteries)
  • Toolkit
  • Whistles and/or signal flares
  • Tarps, plastic bags, and duct tape
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
  • Electric generator
  • A backup supply of gas and additional jerry cans
  • Cash, credit cards and ID
  • Emergency contact info

4. Automate your data backups.

The #1 cause of data loss is human error. If your backup system depends on a human being always doing something right, it’s a recipe for disaster. Automate your backups wherever possible so they run like clockwork, no matter what the weather looks like.

5. Enable remote network access.

Without remote access to your network, you and your staff won’t be able to keep working in the event that you can’t get into your office. To keep your business going, at the very minimum, you need a way for your IT team to quickly step in when needed.

6. Protect your property.

While so much of disaster recovery these days is focused on data continuity, it’s important to remember that your facilities are a resource as well, and they should be protected.

  • Make sure your windows have proper shutters or are boarded up with plywood to keep them safe from airborne debris.
  • Inspect your roof prior to each hurricane season to make sure it’s in good shape.
  • Assess whether there are any aging branches or trees that could fall and cause damage during a storm. If you’re unsure, have an arborist check it out for you.
  • Bring sandbags to areas that could be affected by flooding.
  • Secure heavier objects, including bookcases, shelves, filing cabinets, computers, etc.
  • Secure utilities, and raise them off the ground if necessary to avoid flood damage. Prior to the hurricane reaching your area, make sure they’re all turned off.
  • Relocate any fragile or valuable items to less dangerous areas, if possible.

7. Protect your documents.

Once all your physical assets are taken care of, don’t forget about your business documentation.

  • Make sure you have a backup of info on important business contacts.
  • Backup documents that are not easy to reproduce or acquire in the event of water damage – insurance and legal contracts, tax files, etc.
  • Keep as much of your documentation as possible in waterproof containers.

8. Test the plan regularly.

If you’re going to go to the trouble of setting up a plan, at least make sure it works by double-checking it on a regular basis. An IT professional can check on a regular basis to make sure your systems work properly, and that your data is secure.

Involve Your Employees

Don’t forget to brief your employees – your hurricane plan should not be written and then left on a shelf. Every employee should be familiar with your procedures and plans to handle any future emergencies. Hold a meeting where your plan is reviewed, roles are assigned, and your staff can ask questions.

Enacting a comprehensive plan like this means you can be confident that your USVI business’ valuable data, sensitive emails, and other digital assets are all protected, backed up and securely stored away until you need them – simple as that.

If you have any concerns about the process, then be sure to consult with an IT services provider that understands the specifics of business continuity and disaster recovery.

Like this article? Check out the following blogs to learn more:

How Can You Protect Your Data in a Natural Disaster?

How Can You Protect Your USVI Business From Ransomware?

Hurricane Preparedness (Questions/Answers)