This article appeared in the November/December, 2018 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.
Earlier this fall, the news was full of reports regarding disasters impacting thousands of people here in the United States. Hurricanes, tropical storms, and the many fires devouring acres of land in the western part of the country were constantly covered in the national news. Our thoughts remain with the many people impacted by these disasters, as well as the emergency responders and volunteers who provided assistance.
Situations like these should also cause us to pause to consider how well our businesses would withstand such emergencies. Does your company have a disaster recovery plan? Does your mailing operation have a back-up plan for your business data? Surprisingly, in many cases, the answers to those questions is “no.” Yes, these plans involve a lot of work, but should disaster strike, wouldn’t you rather be prepared?
Have a Plan
- Back up your business data.
- Test your backups regularly to be sure you can restore them.
- Rotate your backup media off-site so that a theft or on-site fire or water damage don’t render your backups useless at the time you’ll need them most.
- Document your backup and restore process so that you can restore systems quickly even though your IT guru may not be available.
- Investigate, plan, and implement real-time disaster recovery for your business data, particularly if your business model has little downtime tolerance.
Many mailers pooh-pooh these efforts as unnecessary work. But consider this: If your most important database (mailing or otherwise) disappeared right now, how would that impact your business? How would you recover? How long would it take to get back to where you are right now, productivity-wise? When did you last test your ability to restore your data from a backup?
As a software provider, we see this happen all too often. Clients contact us for assistance after a server crash, a virus attack, or other failures to mechanical or electrical devices. In cases where clients have no disaster recovery or backup plans, the road to recovery is very long and very painful, not to mention costly. Invariably, the clients who had no plan deeply regret that they did not spend the time to put plans in place.
Better Sooner than Later
Being human, we tend to ignore backups until we need them. Unfortunately, this puts your job, your business, and your clients’ business at risk. That, in turn, puts the security of your clients, your employees, your clients’ employees, and the families of all these people at risk.
The recent natural disasters are great reminders that we need to plan ahead for just these types of situations. Downtime due to mechanical, electrical, or other failures is almost impossible to predict, so it is critical to put plans in place before disaster strikes, regardless of its form. Think of it as a storm shelter or an insurance policy: it may cost you some time and money up front, but your business’ life may depend on having it in place.
Your IT staff or contractor should be able to assist you with putting your disaster recovery and backup plans into place. During this process, make sure that they consider your mailing and shipping hardware, software, and data in those plans. Specific to the recent storm events, the USPS offers frequent communication regarding the status of services and facilities through its USPS Service Alerts.
Jeff Peoples is founder and CEO, Window Book.