IT disasters are democratic by nature. Every enterprise is at risk, whether from a server crash, IT administrator error or criminal attacks. However, different enterprises may have varying levels of resources available to counter or repair those disasters. Bigger organisations can afford separate systems for disaster recovery test and backup, as well as dedicated personnel for those functions. By comparison, smaller companies or branch offices may not even have one full-time IT person on their staff. Yet they still need to prepare and test adequately for disaster recovery, or live on a knife-edge hoping (in vain) that a disaster will never strike. What can SMBs do?

The first action item is to understand what is at stake. IT is now an essential part of many businesses, but not all SMBs realise the damage an IT outage can do. Short-term revenue and profit loss are just the beginning. Reputational damage and loss of customer loyalty can affect a company for years afterwards. The next action is to take stock of what a company must do to recover effectively from a disaster, and to compare that need with the resources at hand. Smaller companies may not have enough internal resources to run both production systems and disaster recovery tests. Without due caution, disaster recovery tests in these situations can turn into disasters themselves.

Other workable options for disaster recovery exist, fortunately. If the SMB does not have the technical resources, it can hire a managed services company to put proper DR and DR testing in place. However, handing over responsibility like this to a third party is like any other delegated task. The SMB must still manage it, while remaining accountable to its own customers for any problems. It must take part in regular tests to ensure that disaster recovery will always be timely and effective, whether these tests are organised by its own personnel or by a third party. Its business and survival are at stake. If an SMB forgets this, DR tests will be forgotten or become ineffective, and recovery from disaster will become impossible.