Between hurricanes constantly hammering the east coast, the wildfires in the northwest, and recent devastating Mexico earthquake, a lot of businesses are realizing that they do not have an ideal natural disaster plan. In fact, most businesses don’t have any natural disaster plan at all. Sure, your building has the basic flood and fire insurance but it may be time to really think about what you’d do if your region was hit by a truly devastating storm or knocked over in an earthquake. Even if you did get your building back or set up in a new location, how would you access your files? Perhaps a better question, if your building was completely destroyed, how much would be irrevocably lost? Whether you’re on the coast or inland, at sea level or high in a mountain, it’s time to start thinking about staying in business no matter what happens to your physical offices.
Going Digital Isn’t Enough
Most people in business today probably remember the big digital push when paperwork became obsolete. The argument then was that by transferring all your documents into digital format, there was much less risk of misplacing them or accidentally destroying them with a single spilled cup of coffee. These are still completely legitimate arguments that are still relevant to any company or industry that keeps important files as paper copies only. However, when it comes to disaster recovery, whether the disasters are natural or digital, scanning your documents onto local storage isn’t enough. If something happens to your computers or servers, that data is gone no matter how safe it was from coffee stains.
Where Are Your Backups Going?
In order to compensate for data glitches, hacking, and human error many companies have accepted the necessity of regular backups. These allow you to recover both local computers and shared server data should anything happen. Comprehensive backups are great because you can recover anything from a single post or corrupted file to your entire network configuration depending on the breadth and type of backups you take. However, where these backups are stored makes a big difference when the disaster you’re recovering from is in the physical world. Even if you have them stored in offline drives where hackers couldn’t find or corrupt them, being soaked, burned, or crushed in a natural disaster will quickly render them useless.
Understanding the Cloud
The steady push to switch your file storage to the cloud is a lot more than just hype. The cloud may be the best invention for business since email because your data isn’t stored anywhere that could suffer loss. The reason it’s referred to as ‘the cloud’ is that data stored there is often stored in a variety of server locations sometimes all over the world but these remote storage options come together to form a coherent server option for your company. The principle behind cloud storage is that your data isn’t anywhere, in particular, it’s everywhere. Servers and data stored on the cloud ‘float around’ on the internet, accessible only to those with the right access and login credentials and yet available from absolutely anywhere with internet access.
While it’s true that data stored on the cloud does have to live on a physical machine somewhere, in many cases your data is stored in several different locations creating a robust and nearly impossible to interrupt system. This means that even if something bad should happen to a single cloud storage center, your data will be safe because it’s also stored in several other locations in different regions so they will not have been hit by the same issue. The entire structure of the cloud is intended to ensure that no matter what happens or where your business ends up, your files will be accessible.
Why the Cloud is Safer Data Storage
As recent events have all too clearly shown us, natural disasters can completely destroy a building, neighborhood, and even an entire city. The recent hurricanes have flooded some buildings to the point of destruction, some have collapsed, and others have been completely blown over by wind and debris. Earthquakes can tumble your building and some more extreme cases have left structures completely pulverized, with very little left of the structure or the possessions inside. With this kind of devastation, it’s reasonable to assume that any hard drives in these disaster areas are likely to be damaged and completely useless. It won’t matter how carefully you saved your files or how thoroughly your local backups were created and archived, all local data could be absolutely wiped out with no hope of recovery.
However, the same problem does not apply to the cloud, which as we have just discussed is safe from anything that isn’t a planet-wide destructive event. If your files were saved on the nebulous online network of data centers and remote servers, no single natural disaster can take it out. The more you store in the cloud, the more will be recoverable should the worst occur and your city is struck by some devastating event.
Recovering Through the Cloud
The cloud’s primary feature and selling point is the ‘access anywhere’ model. Part of the reason for the distributed storage is to make data more accessible from anywhere in the country and the world. Working with the cloud, your employees will be able to access your data from anywhere on any device all over the world from mobile devices, laptops, and stationary desktop computers and the same principle applies after a natural disaster. While your office computers may be under six feet of water, any computer you have access to will be able to connect to your business data and you can get right back to work.
Think about it like this, in one model you have a lot of business computers that all physically connect to their local server. You have everything you need in a single building from your web hosting to your customer’s personal data. This is a very compact business, but it is not disaster-proof. In the other model, only the access point computers are in the office itself while the network, all the servers, and every drop of data is stored on a remote cloud server. In the first model, all work must be done in the office or with a device that can connect to the office network. In the second model, you could switch offices with an entirely other business and still access all your files, website, and data because it’s stored in the cloud.
What does this mean? Simply that recovery isn’t actually necessary. If your business moves to office space halfway across the country with brand new computers and even new staff, your website, servers, and all your important business files are right where you left them, perfectly accessible and undamaged. It doesn’t matter what happens to your physical office because everything you need is safely in the cloud just waiting for an authorized login. The best part is that if you have automated services, they probably never even went down. The entire time you spend relocating away from the disaster zone, your customers may still have been accessing your online resources, making orders, and leaving supportive comments.
The cloud is an amazing new way for businesses to run. Independent of facility, staff, or even regional natural disasters, the cloud ensures that no matter what happens to the home office, you still have a business to come back to when the dust settles. For more information or to find the perfect cloud solution for your business, contact us today!