No business, large or small, is completely safe from the dramatic consequences of sudden data loss or even temporary outages. These incidents directly affect an organization's daily operations. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, 93% of companies that lose their data center for ten days or more stop operations within a year. To avoid these risks, organizations need a well-designed disaster recovery plan (DRP) that can save them from long-term downtime and data loss.
Remember, having a backup strategy is not the same as having a DR strategy. We prepared an IT Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist that covers the main aspects of a DRP.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a documented approach aimed at ensuring business continuity during natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other human-caused security incidents. A DRP includes a set of policies, tools, and procedures designed to ensure the recovery of lost data and the continuity of business.
A DR plan can anticipate and reduce the consequences of most IT failures, including:
- Software/hardware failures;
- Data corruption or loss;
- External cybersecurity threats;
- Unintended employee errors.
When developing a DR plan, you must identify business goals and then understand exactly which services are critical and in what order they need to be restored. Only after this analysis, it makes sense to select specific disaster recovery tools.
Follow the given steps to create a successful disaster recovery plan.
1. Create a team of responsible emergency management professionals
Choose employees who can provide different perspectives on the company's vulnerabilities. Include representatives from all major departments in your company – human resources, production, and senior executives.
2. Identify recovery goals
The primary purpose of developing a disaster recovery plan is to reduce downtime and the cost of data loss. The key goals are set through the RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective) parameters. These metrics help you decide how quickly you need to take steps to recover your data.
The RTO defines the operational downtime during which the system must fully recover. The RPO estimates the maximum limit of data loss that will not result in catastrophic business consequences.
3. Conduct a risk analysis
You probably already know your organization's vulnerabilities, but it is also necessary to check the defenses. This will give you valuable insight into how well you can protect your most valuable assets.
4. Create detailed documentation
A systematic network configuration guide will help with the data recovery process. The documentation must be easily accessible to all personnel. Ensure you have a hard copy. A cohesive plan for your current network infrastructure ensures that the entire system is rebuilt and restored correctly.
The DRP must meet the established RTO and RPO standards. Both automated and manual processes included in the plan must be documented. Detailed documentation increases the chances of a successful recovery of damaged network infrastructure.
5. Choose a data recovery method
RAID recovery, tape recovery, hard drive recovery, optical recovery, etc. – these are just some of many types of data recovery solutions. Selecting the right one for your organization is very important. This can be an on-premises or a cloud-based solution – Disaster recovery-as-a-Service. The choice depends on your organization's requirements since every recovery method differs in its set of capabilities. The cost of recovery solutions is determined by storage capacity, recovery time, and configuration complexity.
6. Train your employees
The responsible employees must understand everything that is involved in a DRP. Make sure that everyone in your organization knows what steps to take in the event of a disaster. Doing things the wrong way could put your entire organization at risk and destroy the data you are trying to recover. Employee training will also allow you to take a different look at your plan and identify some points that you may never have considered.
7. Test your Disaster Recovery plan
Test your plan to see if it works. By executing a step-by-step plan, you can see if each step is going well and if anything needs to be changed.
The entire disaster recovery team should participate in these tests. Playing out data loss and cyberattack scenarios in real-time helps the team stay prepared for the unexpected.
All organizations can face disruptions, whether it is a cyberattack, natural disaster, or an IT failure. The more time it takes to deal with the problem, the more complex and expensive the recovery process will be. Therefore, it is better to be prepared. A disaster recovery plan provides organizations with a process for responding to various incidents. Along with business continuity planning, it is an important strategy for managing the ever-growing risk of failure.