A number of businesses are making headlines for all the wrong reasons these days. Natural disasters like fires, floods and tornados are wreaking havoc on offices and the hardware kept on-site. New threats from cyberattacks are also impacting operations, with organizations experiencing everything from malware to stolen files. For many businesses, it’s a matter of when, not if, these events will happen, and the consequences for smaller firms could be dire. With this checklist, small businesses can establish a strong business continuity and disaster recovery strategy.

1. Determine your risk

The first thing that you’ll want to do is analyze the region your office is in. Certain areas are prone to weather events more than others, and that will make all the difference when strategizing how you will protect your sensitive files. For example, people in the Midwest likely wouldn’t experience an earthquake or the wildfires that are common across states on the West Coast. It will also be important to review the history of critical weather events in recent years to gauge your own risk.

Determine your risk for natural disasters like fires in your area.Determine your risk for natural disasters like fires in your area.

At the same time, natural disasters aren’t the only threats businesses can face. The United Kingdom’s Wiltshire County Council explained that a disaster could be any incident that results in serious consequences for your business, including hardware failure and cyberattacks. By including these considerations into your risk assessment, you will have a better picture of what dangers you should look out for and protect against.

2. Back up essential data

Once you’ve identified the potential risks to your organization, it’s time to establish a backup strategy to minimize downtime. The best thing to do is keep three copies on two different mediums with one stored off-site. Following the 3-2-1 rule provides peace of mind that your essential files are safe no matter what happens to your physical office or your online presence. Continuity Central noted that this measure will ensure that alternative operational locations are available, even if employees need to work from home. This will get business up quickly and curtail downtime costs.

3. Test and revise the plan

“You need to regularly test your backup copies and ensure that they are working.”

Once a backup strategy has been established, it cannot simply be forgotten about. You need to regularly test your backup copies and ensure that they are working. If you are hit with a disaster, a tested backup could make all the difference in ensuring that your files are secure and can be easily restored. The Wiltshire County Council suggested reviewing your plan every six months to expose any flaws and verify that your strategy will work in the face of an emergency. This step is absolutely essential for any disaster recovery checklist and should be made a priority across your organization.

Small businesses have a lot to worry about, but bouncing back from a disaster doesn’t have to be so complicated. With this checklist, organizations can gauge their risk, establish a backup strategy to fit their needs and ensure that it works for their current and future requirements.