by Kurt Hildebrand\n\nIn a world of big data, having a disaster recovery and business continuity strategy in place is essential. A Ponemon Institute study showed that a single minute of downtime costs the average business $5,600. As companies continue to increase automation, that number will only rise. An Aberdeen report found that hourly downtime costs increased by 38% from 2010 to 2012 to an industry average of over $400,000 a year.\nFor small and mid-sized businesses, crafting and updating an appropriate disaster recovery (DR) plan means examining your current and future data storage methods while keeping an eye on costs.\nIf you\u2019re using an on-site data center, off-site tape rotation and storage may be your most cost-effective solution, and it works well as long as you are comfortable dealing with a recovery time of two to five days. Tapes can be stored in a safe deposit box, a fireproof vault, or by a vendor that specializes in off-site storage. Tape cartridges must be rotated to ensure that backup date stays current. Keep in mind that tape is delicate and can be damaged by heat and humidity, so not all backups are successful. Cartridges should be replaced every six to 12 months.\nVirtual private networks (VPNs) offer another solution to DR, allowing those with access to log in and work remotely. If you use this strategy, it\u2019s important to consider company priorities in determining which employees should have access. Providing access to everyone may put too much demand on the VPN gateway. And what if the gateway itself is damaged? Large companies often have several SSL VPN gateways at different locations.\nMaybe, like so many businesses today, you have moved all or some of your data to the cloud. With remote storage, you can replicate your files, decide on the order of data restoration, and allow users to recover their own files via the internet. You can also use cloud-based VPN services, which offer much greater bandwidth and infrastructure, so you can quickly add new accounts and users.\nCreating a DR plan provides a perfect opportunity to examine your storage system and consider modernizing to avoid delays you can\u2019t afford. Remember, you don\u2019t need to stick to one solution. Hybrid storage offers flexibility and multiple options to make your DR plan faster, redundant, and more robust.