Once a disaster strikes–regardless of
whether it’s localized or widespread–you must perform certain
actions immediately in order to bring operations back up and
running as quickly as possible. In many cases, you can prepare to
jump into action ahead of time, but that’s not always possible.

The first thing you must do is analyze the
extent of the damage to the data systems. If you neglect this
critical step, you may inadvertently move operations to systems or
data centers that are just as likely to fail as those that already

You must also immediately determine the root
cause of the problem to the best of your abilities and decide the
best course of action to take. Of course, your options will vary
according to the nature of the disaster.

For example, in the case of a fire or flood,
you must wait for the fire or the flood waters to subside. Once
such an event occurs, you can then begin restoration

However, some disasters make it nearly, if not
completely, impossible to ascertain the extent of possible damage.
Earthquakes may be limited to a physical location, but aftershocks
can occur for some time, making it dangerous to begin recovery

Or consider a tornado, which can touch down
over a miles-wide area. Just because your initial data center is no
longer in the path of the storm doesn’t mean you can assume you can
begin recovery operations at the data center across town.

Likewise, nonphysical disasters, such as those
caused by a virus attack, also pose exceptionally difficult
recovery operations in the first hours. Failing over or restoring
service too soon could cause immediate reinfection of the new
systems. You must first determine the extent of the damage, the
rate of infection, and whether any antivirus updates exist to stop
the spread.

Once you’ve determined the details of how
you’ll begin the recovery process, the next step is to assemble a
team of recovery personnel. Send out e-mails (if e-mail is still
operational), and begin alerting all necessary personnel where they
need to report.

Of course, this process will go a lot more
smoothly if you’ve already identified these people and developed a
communication plan. If so, you can start tracking them down
immediately and begin the recovery process that much sooner.

If you haven’t made such preparations, you must
first determine how to reach staff by various communication
methods. This can take precious time away from immediate recovery
operations, and it could easily result in critical staff being
unavailable in time to assist.

Another part of your predisaster preparation
should be to determine which data systems are most critical for
restoration and how long they can feasibly be down before affecting
the bottom line. The next step in your immediate-response duties is
to focus on these systems first–and bring them back up as quickly
as possible.

Of course, this is only the beginning of the
recovery process, and your work will be far from over. However,
these first critical hours can mean the difference between recovery
from the event and the loss of money, clients, or even the entire

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