What constitutes a disaster?

Disaster recovery is a bit of a misnomer in that the definition is a set of policies and procedures designed to assist in the recovery of technology infrastructure. Disaster management, on the other hand, is the recovery from a natural or man-made disasters. Typically, disasters affect communities or geographic regions, although in our modern age, disasters can take on different forms. Needless to say, no matter the region or country, we can be affected by disaster directly or indirectly, and we have to be prepared for it. An important part of disaster preparedness is risk analysis (RA), which is the process of identifying risks and threats.

Let’s take a look at types of disasters and what they imply:

Insidious disasters

These disasters are hidden and almost imperceptible, most often man-made, eg. poisoning of water supply.

Short-term disasters

These are disasters that have a short-term effect. Recovery is usually quick and disruption is minimal, eg. lightning storm.

Medium-term disasters

These disasters are often seasonal, last for more than a few weeks, and have a long-lasting effect on communities. They can often become long-term and catastrophic. Disaster management in these cases is managed by municipalities and local authorities, eg. tornado.

Long-term and catastrophic disasters

These are usually disasters that happen over a prolonged period or have catastrophic effects that may be felt over years or decades. A chilling example is the Fukushima earthquake, the effects of which are still felt around the world.

Here’s how to prepare for big disasters:

Create, develop and maintain a disaster management plan.
Enforce strict safety policies.
Train and educate not just employees but family and communities.
Volunteer with relief organisations.
Donate to relief organisations.

Here’s how to prepare for disasters of a lesser extent:

Lightning storms: Install surge protection and lightning conductors.
Floods: Do regular checks on drainage and make sure that plumbing is maintained and checked often.
Fire: Make sure that fire systems are working and in place.
Evacuation plans: Create and simulate these plans regularly.

Here’s how to protect your IT infrastructure from disasters:

Virtualisation: Locate your servers and data offsite.
Disaster recovery planning: Use proved and intelligent cloud software so that you can work remotely if required.
Hot sites: Use alternate facilities that you can quickly failover to when your premises are out of commision.
Alternative power: Invest in and research alternate power and backup power systems.

You can’t prevent all disasters but you can prepare for them by having a disaster recovery plan in place to keep your business running while you deal with the disruption.

If you need help with creating a disaster recovery plan for your business, get in touch with a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) provider and you’ll be prepared for the worst.

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