Safe (And Not-So-Safe) Spots For Remote Data Centers

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Ideally, the data should be replicated to an off-site data center far enough away so that a disaster at the client's main data center will not impact the secondary site. While no minimum distance is mandated, the Securities and Exchange Commission recommended in a 2003 white paper that "organizations should establish backup facilities a significant distance away from their primary sites."

That "significant distance" varies according to the degree of risk. For a business in Florida, the secondary site should be located where a hurricane cannot reach it to prevent one storm from taking out the primary and secondary site at the same time.

For companies in the Midwest, however, that minimum distance can be shorter.

David Klauser, president and CEO of Gravity Data Systems, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., said he has his Chicago-based clients use a South Bend, Ind.-based remote facility, which is about 75 miles or so as the crow flies. "It's close enough to Chicago to drive to if we need, but far enough for Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA requirements," he said.

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Online healthy and sustainable living community SustainLane along with Stanford University's Risk Management Solutions organization surveyed the 50 largest cities in the U.S. for risk from natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, hail, tornados, and earthquakes, and found:

Top 7 Least Risky Cities
(i.e. good places for remote disaster recovery centers)

1. Mesa, Ariz.
1. Milwaukee
3. Cleveland
3. El Paso, Texas
3. Phoenix
3. Tucson, Ariz.
7. Colorado Springs, Colo.

Top 8 Most Risky Cities
(i.e. good places from where data should be replicated elsewhere)

50. Miami
49. New Orleans
48. Oakland, Calif.
47. San Francisco
46. Honolulu
45. San Jose, Calif.
43. Los Angeles
43. Houston