The best way to recover from a natural disaster is to prepare for the worst and implement prevention plans before it ever happens. But what can you do if you are caught without those safety measures?

In this digital age, information we can’t touch is the foundation of almost every industry. Client data, financial records, and company processes can all be left dangerously exposed in the event of a catastrophe.

Data recovery is often the last thing on people’s minds after a natural disaster. As you watch your home or business crumble at your feet, external hard drives and cloud technology seem like nothing more than abstract concepts separate from the physical backbone of your business.

Disasters don’t always wait for us to be prepared. If you’ve suddenly found yourself without a disaster recovery plan and are feeling lost in the aftermath of a disaster, here’s what you can do to salvage your business’s data.

Safety First!

The human side of your business is obviously the highest priority when a disaster strikes. Though it may seem like common sense, the very first step you should take after a disaster is to secure the safety of your office and equipment. Are there any exposed wires, spilled chemicals, or similarly dangerous remnants of your business? Collaborate with local authorities to assure your workplace is safe enough for you and your employees to evaluate the extent of the damage.

After a natural disaster, you may pose as much of a danger to your equipment as it does to you. Though well-intentioned, trying to take your machines apart to dry or fix them yourself can cause more harm than good. Water damage and other weathering may make your equipment unsafe to operate, but don’t presume that your data is unrecoverable for this reason! There are many ways to determine whether or not your hardware is damaged beyond repair, but always contact data recovery experts before trying to rescue your equipment from water damage or similar impairments.

Evaluate Your Needs Ahead of Time 

Keeping accurate audits of your hardware and your data will make calculating damages after a disaster more efficient for you and the data recovery experts assisting. This means more than a simple checklist of your hardware. Solid records include account information for all employees, up-to-date documentation of processes, configurations, file taxonomy systems and data hierarchies, and license keys for all software.  Managed IT services companies can help track all of this data for you as part of their offerings.

The data recovery experts helping you through a natural disaster should be able to look at your records and immediately prioritize what data to recover first to keep your business running.If you don’t have these records coming out of a disaster, work with your data recovery team to create an audit from memory to determine what files are most vital to salvage and replace.

Taking Digital Refuge

So you’ve compiled a list of damages and salvaged what data you could from a handful of untouched file cabinets and hard drives. Now what?

The next step is to create a secure environment from which to rebuild. If the data recovery experts you’ve consulted were able to save some of your equipment or recover files, they should be able to help you find a network that’s safe enough for you to conduct your business.

Once you’ve confirmed no cyber threats will be able to take advantage of any provisional vulnerabilities, it’s time to start contacting vendors to update them about your post-disaster situation and temporary workspace. Individual vendors may be able to restore some of the data you may have lost, but even if that’s not the case, it’s important that everyone connected with your business knows that your servers and services are out of order. Honesty will go further to preserve your business than pretending like everything is fine.

If you’ve backed your data offsite utilizing the cloud, you can restore it over your new secure network and continue operations using your temporary workspace.

Steps to Prevent Data Loss Before a Disaster Strikes

If you’re disaster-free so far, take this opportunity to ensure you’ve taken precautions to avoid losing data in the event of unforeseen circumstances. If you’re recovering from disaster, use these tips to protect your business moving forward:

  • Formulate a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. This includes a checklist of preventative steps, as well as one for actions to take in the event of a disaster. Every employee should have access to the full data recovery plan documentation and be trained in file recovery measures. Test your plan at least once a year to make sure there aren’t any holes in your strategy. There’s always room for improvement!
  • Utilize cloud technology. Depending on the amount of data and kinds of files you need to protect, cloud services are a budgetary necessity that’s more affordable and versatile than ever. Cloud backups allows you to quickly restore your data over a secure internet connection, and in most natural disasters this solution will keep your business in working order until your business fully recovers.
  • Keep hard copies of all vital information. If the worst happens and all your digital data is lost, you’ll still need to know how to contact your clients and vendors. Find a safe process of storing some information (like your disaster recovery plan documentation) in a secure offsite location. You may even consider underground storage.
  • Schedule a complete remote backup at least once a weekIf your data changes frequently, once a day or even hourly may be appropriate. In addition to regular in-house backups, it’s wise to keep an offsitecopy of your backups in a safe location. What if your entire town is wiped out by a tornado, or a massive disaster destroys multiple cloud server regions across the country? Having a backup in a separate location can save you time, money, and headaches.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes and your business is irreversibly leveled—prevention is the key to keeping your data safe from harm. This article is brought to you by Anderson Technologies.