Disasters are a horrible thing. We can only hope to never have our lives and loved ones involved first hand. But disasters do happen and almost all of us will experience the pain and misery ourselves at different points in our lives. The key is to mitigate the loss and pain through careful preparation. During a disaster our first concern will be for the safety and protection of those closest to us. Once that is secured, we will all begin the transition back to normal life and work.

I have had many tell me that in a disaster they are not going to care about their servers and the PCs at the office. That is true however, at some point, normal life must return. So how do you do that? You must have a disaster recovery plan in place. It must have several components:

1. It must be well thought out…
2. You must consider what assets you need to protect.
3. How will you best protect them?
4. What is your Recovery Point Objective?
5. What is your Recovery Time Objective?
6. Do you need a business continuity plan to go along with the recovery plan?
7. Who will do the disaster recovery work when the time comes?
8. Where will you set-up shop if you can’t go back to your original location?

These are just some of the questions facing or soon to be facing many in Japan. I found it strange to hear on the Monday after the Friday earthquake and tsunami there were many Japanese workers dressed in their suits trying to find their way to work even in the stricken zones. Many had nothing to return to and they had no idea what to do in a disaster, but I had to marvel at the dedication of the Japanese people.

In the days and weeks to follow some businesses will return to work swiftly and effectively. They will resume full operations and just miss some calendar days of operation while they work with their insurance companies to rebuild and get back to work. Others will find that everything they had, including all of their key IT assets and vital information are all gone, swept out to sea, crushed under rubble or even confiscated due to radiation exposure. One group will continue on after the pain has subsided. For the others, the pain will live on. Today, if disaster strikes you, which camp will you be in?