Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to Determine the Effectiveness of a Disaster Recovery Plan


With more and more businesses and companies relying on their IT systems, having a suitable disaster recovery plan has become almost compulsory. Any downtime of critical systems could very quickly cascade into a loss of revenue, and so having a disaster recovery plan that is ready to kick in and restore these systems as quickly as possible is crucial.

In the past most disaster recovery plans pivoted around the idea of having comprehensive backups in place that could be used when anything happened. Still, the process of rebuilding a server and restoring the backups used to be rather lengthy and translate into several days of downtime. Nowadays that is no longer the case and new technology has come in that significantly improves the timeframe for full restoration – even to the point where it should take just a few hours.

It is important that you look closely at your disaster recovery plan and analyze its effectiveness from time to time. When you do, some of the areas that you should look at include:

  • Location
Assuming a physical disaster occurs, it is important that any backup and recovery options that you have in play are located far enough away from your main servers that they won’t be affected. Whether it is a power outage or earthquake or some other natural disaster – the actual location of your backups does matter.
  • Frequency of back-ups
Generally speaking, backing up data more frequently is better – but the actual optimal frequency will vary from company to company. Some companies may be able to get by with daily backups (i.e. losing 24 hours of data at most might not be crippling) whereas others may require a much higher frequency and need to be backed up every 15 minutes.
  • Back-up integrity checks
To ensure that your back-ups are ready to use in case of a disaster, their integrity needs to be checked from time to time. Once again this will vary on a case-by-case basis, with some companies requiring an integrity check on a daily or weekly basis while others do so quarterly.
  • Time to partial and full restoration
Partial restoration normally refers to restoring data to the point where the company is able to access it, whereas full restoration refers to ‘normal’ usage being restored. With virtualization, it is possible for your server to be virtualized using a data center in just a matter of hours – but not all recovery plans will allow for this.

As you can see, analyzing the effectiveness of a disaster recovery plan could have a huge effect on whether or not you’re able to get your server up and running as soon as possible while minimizing (or eliminating) the loss of important data. While it is true that disaster recovery will incur some additional costs, when you consider the fact that it is balanced out against the risk of severe downtime that could affect your revenue then it is easy to put it into perspective.

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