Setting up a disaster recovery (DR) plan from scratch can seem like a daunting task. While it’s true that there are many variables to be considered in the planning stages, there are three basic steps to getting this vital task off of your to-do list. Since disasters often strike with no warning, you should start planning today.

Data Storage

The first step in setting up a DR plan is to protect data. True data protection involves keeping your data in two places at all times. That way, if a disaster occurs at one location, you have a backup. Ideally, these two locations would be a variation of on-site, off-site, and/or a third party service provider.  More commonly today would be to house data between one or more cloud providers in conjunction to an on-site strategy.

Having data on- and off-premises protects you in the event that a disaster occurs at your law firm’s physical location or at the location of your back-up site.

Remote Workspace

Once you protect your data, you need to consider how you’ll access it if your office is unreachable for several days. For example, in the event of a flood or a fire, you may not be able to get to your office for several weeks. Worse, your equipment, such as computers and servers, may be destroyed. That’s why many software and cloud providers offer applications in the cloud, meaning you can access both your data and your software. For example, you would be able to access your case management applications via any device that has an internet connection. Such services could enable your entire firm to work remotely while your office is repaired.

Remote Workspace offers more benefits than only a DR recovery solution. It can be used to connect your staff to the firm while they’re at court, out of town, or at home after hours.

DR Plans Must Be Tested

A DR plan without a test run is almost as bad as no DR plan at all. The only way to be certain that your staff will have access to everything it needs in the event of a disaster is to test your DR plan prior to a disaster. It sounds like a more daunting task than it is, but a test can easily be scheduled for a Saturday morning, when it won’t interfere with critical tasks. A good test will require everyone involved to test his or her access to the remote system and a mock-restore of the server.

Undoubtedly, you’ll find a few items that hadn’t been addressed during the planning stage, but you’ll be able to adjust the DR plan accordingly.

Once you’ve ascertained that your DR plan is sound, routine tests need to be conducted once a year. These annual tests will ensure the DR plan is up to date with any new applications, security policies, or changes that your law firms has put in place.

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