What to Do When Your Server Crashes

server crashYou never think it will happen to you, but you often read news stories, blogs and seemingly hypothetical anecdotes about server outages that send organizations into an infrastructural tailspin. A server crash can send your whole organization into state of panic and damage cleanup mode. When a server goes down, you’re essentially flirting with the prospect of losing data, money and customers immediately, and in some rare cases, permanently. In the IT world, this would easily classify as a disaster.

According to a recent report by CareerBuilder, roughly 60 percent of all employers were unsure if their employees would know what to do in the event of a disaster. Worse than that, a hair under 20 percent of employers didn’t even know if they had a disaster recovery plan in place. These stats reveal that the many companies are operating out of one of two perspectives 1) They probably don’t have a disaster plan in place, or 2) If they do have a plan in place, they have no way of executing their plan.

The reality is that most places of business are badly in need of IT disaster education. Lucky for you, class is in session (you will be billed for tuition in the next three weeks).

Three Things to do Immediately After a Server Outage

1. Immediately Review Your Disaster Recovery Plan

This is where you schedule an emergency meeting with your IT department to determine the details of your disaster recovery plan. If you mention the initials DRP, and everyone in the room shrugs their shoulders, it’s safe to assume this portion of your business has never been considered. The good news is that there are plenty of disaster recovery specialists with the chops to help you establish not just a disaster recovery plan, but also a prevention program. The best disaster recovery providers will ensure that you never experience downtime. Better yet, when your server does go down, they’ll ensure no data is lost whatsoever.

2. Check the Status of Your Backups

At the very least, your IT staff should have come up with a system that backs up all your data in multiple formats – preferably in the cloud, on tape and on disk; there are ways to do this in-house and companies that specialize in server backup. Your tech team should have also established data loss threshold levels, which basically means clearly outlining what level of data loss your organization can afford to lose while still remaining functional. According to Paragon Software, one of the most common backup mistakes is when data isn’t backed up to a separate drive or storage format. Another common problem has to do with accessibility. Whatever backup solution and your team uses, it must be accessible in the case of a server outage, or similar disaster. If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, invest in some data restoration solutions immediately.

3. Check for Security Issues

In many cases, server outages are the result from an external intrusion. This can be the result of poor security and maintenance policies instituted by your team, or just a lack of knowledge in general server security and data protection solutions.

Prevention is the Best Cure

At the end of the day, no company can afford to think, “This could never happen to me.” Currently, server outages on the enterprise level can cost upwards of $90,000 an hour or more. As your server infrastructure grows to meet the needs of an expanding business, you’re never fully aware of every weak point in your system. Accidents happen, but you can avoid the disastrous fallout with an effective plan. Get with your team, develop a disaster recovery plan and protect your data in the process.

About the Author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing on technology and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

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  • For small businesses, I recommend making quarterly backups of key data and store them on DVD’s offsite. Also, consider using a paid service such as Carbonite, MozyPro, Asigra or what every service that best fits your needs.

    Also backups that are not tested are worthless. Be sure to understand the backup capabilities of the solution you select. Some systems provide full recover – meaning you just point the backups to a new desktop or server and everything is restored. I recommend this “bare metal recovery” solution for any mission critical systems. Other backups simply restore files, which means you have to install a new OS, applications, etc.

    Lastly, a major problem we see in managing web operations is people using their production systems for backups/archival purposes. Do not store unrelated data on production systems. This caused your data footprint to grow and can increase your recovery time.