An unblinking look at disaster recovery

Images from the terrible earthquake that recently hit China put disaster recovery into grave perspective

I recently received a message in my inbox reminding me of the importance of disaster recovery:

The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 -- setting the stage for heavy losses and damage. ... Yet, most real-world problems -- while potentially devastating -- are much less spectacular. Unforeseen problems, like unidentified software bugs, can cause big problems when servers shut down or decentralized software fails.

While I do agree that computer hiccups can be very disruptive, images from the terrible earthquake that recently hit China and those from the devastating cyclone that swept Myanmar put disaster recovery into grave perspective. However damaging computer glitches may be, nothing compares to the loss of human life incurred during natural disasters -- especially given how essential human ingenuity and resiliency is when attempting to recover from calamity.

This photo taken in the aftermath of the Myanmar cyclone says as much about the importance of bringing in the proper equipment after a disaster as it does about the human will to recover and rebuild when just about everything seems lost.

It's a lesson that should be kept in mind as our hurricane season approaches. Being prepared to replace damaged equipment and having a remote location from which to safely resume business are certainly important, but even the best-conceived recovery plan can prove ineffective if you don't have sufficiently skilled human resources to make it work.

To explore what could happen if disaster should leave key staff incapacitated or worse is a somewhat somber activity that many would rather not dwell on.

It's always painful to contemplate events that could cause suffering for friends and colleagues, but the sad reality is that recovery becomes more difficult, if at all possible, if a disaster decimates your employees.

I'll go out on a limb to say that protecting your company from the business impact of material losses -- damaged computers, for example, or even a destroyed building -- is relatively easy. Money is obviously an issue, but balancing the amount of dollars you can afford to invest versus the risk you want to avoid should be a no-brainer business decision.

By contrast, protecting your company from the loss of critical personnel has little to do with money. Even if you could afford to double up staff on key responsibilities, when calamity strikes there are no guarantees of survival for anybody.

Consider instead cross-training people at different branches, for example. Have your San Francisco manager and some of his/her staff swap duty with their New York colleagues for a day or two every six months. Ideally, the timing for those training sessions should be when you are testing your business resumption plan, but you may have a different take on how best to proceed with this strategy.

Are SMBs with one location sorely out of luck? Not necessarily. Finding a partner company willing to swap-train key people shouldn't be too difficult. Think of it as carpooling to fight the impact of disaster -- and a good opportunity to share technical insights and experience.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mario Apicella

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?