Monday, May 20, 2024

Explaining Disaster Recovery Plans And Why You Should Have One

Disaster recovery plans are something every business needs to have—after all, it’s always to be safe than sorry. 

As you read those three words, you probably envision a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado, and you’re not wrong; you just haven’t envisioned the whole picture.

Yes, your disaster recovery plan will help you recover after a natural disaster, but they will also apply to cyber attacks, hardware failure, power outages, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a disaster recovery plan is, what it should include, why they’re so important, and the role of regular testing to validate your recovery plan.

Explaining Disaster Recovery Plans

DRPs are policies and processes put into action after a disaster occurs. They typically include RTOs and RPOs, or recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives.

Recovery time objectives let you and your team know how long you have to recover certain systems before they begin to affect your business. 

For example, if you experience a power outage, you may only have thirty minutes to get your app reconnected to wifi, servers, and cloud services before it begins to fail.

Understanding the RTO for each piece of your business will allow you and your team to understand which things must be taken care of first and why.

On the other hand, recovery point objectives refer to how much time you have before your data loss becomes too much.

Outlining exactly how long you can lose data for is vital information for you and your team to be aware of as it tells them how quickly they need to work to get all of your systems working and reconnected and what the consequences may be if reaching this objective isn’t possible.

Considering What They Should Include

On top of including RTOs and RPOs, there are many other things that your disaster recovery plan needs to have. 

You’ll need to have your IT assets listed and broken down into three categories: essential or critical, important, and secondary or unimportant.

When the plan is implemented, your primary focus will be to get your critical assets up and running again since your business can not and will not operate with those systems down. 

Once critical systems have been reestablished, you’ll need to focus on the important ones. While they aren’t as vital as critical assets, important assets will disrupt normal operations if left down for too long.

Unimportant systems are used infrequently, at least when compared to the others, and should be the last ones you reestablish.

This isn’t all your plan needs to include, however. You’ll also need to define what roles each of your personnel will fill, who has access to sensitive data and how it is backed up, a list of possible recovery sites based on how well you can operate from them, and much more. 

It needs to cover every step of the recovery process, from the moment thighs start to go wrong until everything is back up and running smoothly again.

Understanding Their Importance

We rely more and more on technology with each passing day, and it appears that this trend will only continue. As a result, knowing how you’ll respond to a disaster is vital.

On top of being legally required in many areas, DRPs tell you and your employees a lot of information and may even outline steps on how to go about reinstating downed systems and recovering vital data.

Failing to have a disaster recovery plan has a lot of negative consequences, from possibly incurring fines to creating other expenses, loss of customer trust, profit and data, and more.

DRPs contain vital information and steps about what to recover first, where infrastructure should be moved, who does what, and so much more. 

Not having these steps and information will cause chaos and result in your business going dark for much longer than is desired or even necessary. However, having a plan is not enough.

There are many tests that must be conducted before an emergency happens to ensure that the steps included in your plan actually work.

Examining Some Of The Tests You Need To Run

Your disaster recovery plan will contain a lot of information, and each section will need to be tested. There are a variety of ways that you can test your recovery plan as a result.

Before you can even begin testing, you’ll need to decide what the purpose of your tests is. 

While that sounds strange, knowing which parts of the system are being stressed and why is vital for obtaining accurate results that you and your team can work with.

Ensure that everyone involved understands the goals before running your tests so you can keep an eye on the proper data and teams, and so your expectations are clear. 

Once your test has been run and you’ve collected and analyzed your findings, you’ll need to decide if a change is necessary, why it needs to happen, and what it needs to be changed to.

You’ll need to decide what areas to test and how to do so.

There are quite a few different tests you can conduct, and each has a few ways it can be completed, so you should decide on the specifics beforehand, as this will also allow you to understand what the results may look like. 

For example, if your test is simply to try and run an application that is usually run on your computer on the head of IT’s computer instead, then you can see how well your systems react to dealing with new users on new hardware. 

A test failure in this case may be that the system fails to run at all, certain vital functions are missing, or that it is too difficult for someone else to maneuver.

As a result, you and your team may evaluate to see what is causing the failures and adjust accordingly. Having a disaster recovery plan is a vital part of any business.

It allows you and your team to know who needs to do what, where to start the recovery process and how to go about it, what data could be at stake, and much more.

Hopefully, you understand the benefits of a DRP now and what tests you need to run to ensure you’re prepared for when disaster strikes.

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