5 Steps to Help Recover Data from a Power Outage

Data loss due to power outage

IT Maturity

When you hear “disaster,” you probably think of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other acts of Mother Nature. But oftentimes, the worst disaster is a simple power outage: power outages are common, and when they hit, they hit hard. Over the past year, 30% of organizations lost data due to a power outage, and 42% had significant downtime. During this downtime, a business might have trouble fulfilling customer requests, accessing files, or paying its employees. And if they can’t recover data from a power outage, those issues might persist indefinitely.

No one thinks an outage on this scale will happen to them, until it does. At that point, it might feel too late to do anything—your files are gone, so what’s there to save? However, an outage isn’t the same as an ending, and there are ways to recoup your losses and take strides to protect yourself for the future. 

Here are 5 steps to help recover data from a power outage:   

1. Determine How the Loss Happened 

When tragedy strikes, one of the best things we can do is learn from it. Knowing what caused your outage can prevent it from happening again. For instance, if an employee error caused the outage, that’s a sign that it’s time for a training update.  

2. Check that Your Files are Actually Lost 

Sometimes, a lost file is simply a file in hiding. If your files are backed up to the cloud, you probably have additional copies. And if your hard drive is only damaged—as opposed to destroyed—it’s always possible to fix it. When in doubt, contact your MSP, and they’ll be able to assess the extent of the damage.  

3. Contact Those Who Need to Know  

After you’ve determined your files are gone and not simply missing, you’ll need to contact your vendors and clients. Depending upon the type of data lost, you might have legal responsibilities concerning communication. And even if you’re not legally responsible, chances are there will be consequences, such as a client deciding to take their business elsewhere. Remember, an outage doesn’t just affect you, but also your entire community.  

4. Get Systems Back Up and Running 

Once you’ve determined the cause of your outage, taken steps to retrieve lost files, and informed clients and vendors about the loss, the next step is simple: resume operations. It might feel strange to return to normal activities after a loss this size, but a company can only afford so much downtime. The sooner you’re up and running, the sooner you can implement new strategies to prevent this from happening again.     

5. Prepare for the Future 

Ok, so this next point has several components, but they’re all part of a larger step: preparing for the future. Once a data loss happens, the last thing you want is a second loss. And in order to prevent that loss, you’ll need to prepare for future outages. 

a. Install Backups and UPS 

Backups are essential for securing your data. However, it’s not enough to simply have backups: you also need to make sure those backups are constantly running—and ensuring they’re constantly running still isn’t enough! You’ll also need to check that you have offsite backups via the cloud. A cloud strategy can eliminate or minimize power outages from impacting access to data; if the servers in your office are damaged, an effective cloud strategy provides a second source for your files.   

UPS is also central to ensuring your data stays safe. UPS, or uninterruptable power supplies, provide emergency power during an outage. The run-time on these devices is short, but those extra few minutes can make all the difference in saving your data and properly shutting down your machine.  

b. Create a Business Continuity Plan 

A business continuity plan (BCP) is essential for recovering from a disaster. It provides a plan of attack, as well as specific guidelines and deadlines to help you prioritize. Make sure to set a clear RTO and RPO, and understand the difference between them. Additionally, do your research to avoid overlooking any crucial BCP components.  

c. Test Your Recovery Capabilities 

Having a BCP is great, but only if it works. Experts suggest testing your BCP at least once a year via Table Top Exercises, Walk Throughs, and Disaster Simulations. Similarly, as previously stated, having backups means nothing if they’re not operational. Constantly testing and retesting your devices and strategies is the only way to confirm they’re ready for a future outage.  

In many cases, it’s impossible to predict or prevent an outage. But by following the items on this list, you’ll be able to recover from an outage and ensure that another one doesn’t harm your business. Figure out what happened, alert the proper contacts, and institute new recovery and backup measures. Better yet, don’t wait for an outage to take this last step. Instead, start preparing for that outage today, and you’ll be a step ahead when it inevitably hits.  

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