Be prepared for disaster

When disaster strikes, you must act quickly.
With each delay, your chances of recovering diminish. Avoid delays by planning ahead.

Make regular backups

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Hurricane Katrina

Plan ahead

The most likely disasters in South Florida:

Hurricane: Wind
Hurricane: Flood

Create a disaster recovery plan for the most likely disasters at your site.

Keep off-site backups

Ask, "What will I do if these are stolen or destroyed:

Backup tapes
Customer records
Printed invoices

If you keep archive copies of backup tapes off-site, you'll probably be able to recover from most disasters.


Store backups anywhere that's separated from your business site. If you're on a flood plain, try to store archives in a secure site that's off the flood plain.

A bank safe deposit box would seem fine, but most banks don't guarantee safe deposit box environments. Some businesses have discovered that their archive tapes were unreadable after many months' storage in a safe deposit box. Before storing tapes in a safe deposit box, ask your bank.

Store your archive tapes far enough away so that when your site suffers a disaster, your archive tapes won't be destroyed by the same disaster. Keep grandfather tapes thirty miles away and great-grandfather tapes a thousand miles away, just in case.

Decide if you need to encrypt your precious backup tapes. Most enterprises will require that their offsite data be encrypted. This imposes a requirement that the decryption password be safely secured yet available to key personnel when recovering from a disaster. I recommend that you thoroughly test beforehand to ensure that your encrypted tapes can be decrypted!

Assign responsibilities

Agree upon who will do what when an emergency occurs. Tasks:

Secure existing site
Open alternate site (if necessary)
Fetch backup archives
Restore power, water, and sewer
Restore computers
Restore telephones and fax
Restore physical security
Contact key customers and vendors

These people will form your disaster recovery team.


When a disaster occurs, someone will be sick or on vacation. Cross-train team members, so that, for example, the person who's in charge of telephone restoration can also fetch the tape archives, etc.

Publish a directory now

Publish, within the recovery team, a confidential directory of team members, with.

Recovery responsibilities
Street address
Mailing address
All phone numbers
A friend or relative's contact data
Email addresses
Pager numbers

Do the same for all vendors: utility companies, landlords, municipalities, police, fire and rescue, hospitals, consultants, and contractors.