Small business owners who sell products online: Do you have a disaster recovery plan for if your IT infrastructure went down in the middle of the cyber Monday sales rush? How about black Friday? Or small business Saturday?

The holiday are coming and right now is the time when small businesses need to prepare to protect their holiday sales from a technology meltdown due to hacking, computer viruses, acts of terrorism, and weather related risks.

I’m going to pose the 4 primary questions small business owners should ask themselves in order to prepare their holiday disaster recovery plan:

The first is “How much time can we afford to spend getting data back online in the event of a disaster?”

To answer this, consider the amount of revenue that would be lost each minute the system was down. Include latent loss due to impact on customer opinion of the company. Use this to determine your answer roughly in minutes.

2) The second question to ask yourself in order to prepare your disaster recovery plan is “How much data can we afford to lose between the last time the data was saved and the time the system went down?”

In order to determine an answer to this, consider information being entered into your website payment information, shipping instructions, and orders that have already been placed. From this determine your answer roughly in minutes.

3) Third you should ask yourself: How much can I afford to spend on backup?

To answer this, consider what it would cost your business for your data to be disrupted during the peak of the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday rush.

Estimate how much revenue would be lost each hour that your systems are down. Determine your answer in dollars.

4) Lastly, prepare for disaster recovery by asking yourself: How do we use our current disaster recovery software or company to restore data?

This only applies if you currently have software. Do you know the answer? Schedule a practice run if your disaster recovery company allows for them. If not, review instructions and make sure employees know their role in the process.

If it’s your first time purchasing disaster recovery look for a company with a hands on approach and that offers technical support 24/7.

So to recap, the questions to ask yourself are:

How much time can we afford to spend getting data back online in the event of a disaster?
How much data can we afford to lose between the last time the data was saved and the time the system went down?
How much can I afford to spend on backup?
How do we use our current disaster recovery software or company to restore data?

Take the time to prepare now and cruise through the Holiday season with confidence.

My name is Stephanie McGuinn and I work for Virtacore, an M3Com Company, and a leading cloud services provider specializing in hands on disaster recovery.