Lessons From Japan: How Important Are The First 72 Hours?


It’s been about 2 months since the tragic natural disaster that struck Japan on March 11 2011. And – although the country is a long way from recovery – we can all learn a lot from Japan’s reaction to the event, which saved thousands of lives and prevented this disaster from becoming much worse.

Just to put things into perspective, the country was hit with 3 very serious events:

  • One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded
  • One of the worst nuclear disasters ever recorded
  • A major tsunami that hit highly populated areas

And all of these events happened simultaneously.

As bad as things are for Japan right now, you really have to admire their resourcefulness. If this had happened anywhere else in the world – including North America – it would’ve been much worse.

One of the things that really stuck out about the Japanese response to this disaster was the fact that they had planned for both prevention AND recovery.

In addition to minimizing the potential for loss or damage as a result of a disaster, the Japanese government also realized that there is a critical 72-hour period after every disaster that must be planned for well in advance. And the success or failure of any disaster plan will be largely decided based on how this period is handled.

Within the first 72 hours, the Japanese government had already taken action on:

  • Rescue efforts
  • Medical assistance
  • Food and water supplies
  • Re-establishing lines of communications so that people could reach their families
  • Setting up alternative shelters for the homeless
  • Ensuring cooperation between different areas of government
  • Maintaining order in the chaos of the aftermath

Slate magazine even reported that Japan’s notorious Yakuza organized crime syndicate had cooperated in patrolling the streets to prevent looting.

Similarly, organizations need to plan for the first few hours after a data disaster.

Sure, hopefully all companies back up their data on – at least – a daily basis. But is hauling your backup tapes off-site every day really enough?

Imagine what would happen if your datacenter caught fire right now.

  • How would this affect your company?
  • How long would it take you to re-build your servers from scratch? What if you were unable to find another machine with identical hardware to the one you just lost?
  • How long would it take you to re-install and reconfigure all of your servers, then have your latest backups couriered over and copied to the new box?
  • What if it was the end of the month and your payroll system went down for several days? How would this affect your employees who have rent and bills to pay?
  • Would your existing customers be patient enough to wait until you come back online, or would they start sending purchase orders to your competitors?
  • Would this unexpected downtime put your company at risk of a lawsuit?
  • When was the last time you actually tested your backups? How do you even know they work?

Simply having copies of your files is is no longer enough. Your company also needs to think about business continuity as part of its data protection plan.

At Storagepipe Solutions, we recognize that some companies have very little tolerance for downtime. That’s why we’ve introduced the Storagepipe Fastback DR service. It’s an online backup service that allows for incredibly fast recovery speeds.

Instead of spending hours or days re-installing your servers and waiting for your backup tapes to be sent over, Fastback DR allows you to get up and running again almost instantly.

Another great feature of Fastback DR is the fact that you can perform bare metal recovery to dissimilar hardware or even virtual machines.

When it getting your company up and running again after a disaster, nothing else offers the speed, flexibility and security of Storagepipe’s Fastback DR service.

To learn more about Storagepipe Fastback DR, please visit

And if you’d like to make a donation to help those hit by natural disasters, you might want to consider Disaster Aid Canada, which can be reached at

Leave a Reply