It doesn’t matter if you’re a small-business owner or part of a larger enterprise – no one is immune to the effects temporary outages and data loss can have on day-to-day operations. So when disasters, security breaches or other catastrophes take place, how does a business effectively recover from them?
By creating a disaster recovery plan (also known as a DRP).
Extended periods of downtime and unrecoverable data loss can be fatal to companies in any industry.
With this in mind, it’s imperative that you establish a DRP now to minimize the negative effects of unplanned outages.
Here are 8 steps you should follow when crafting the perfect disaster recovery plan.
Step 1: Create Recovery Objectives
The main purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible during a disaster. Creating key objectives in the form of an established RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective) will let you set criteria on how quickly your recovery efforts should take.
An RTO sets a deadline to achieve full recovery within the maximum allowable downtime. An RPO measures the possible data loss that your company can afford before suffering catastrophic business consequences.
As you identify and document other objectives, the availability of company resources needs to help identify how conservative or aggressive data recovery efforts should be.
Step 2: Identify Essential Personnel
When designing your disaster recovery plan, you’ll need to identify each staff member, both internal and external, that will be part of your recovery efforts. Each team member and department involved with your recovery efforts should be documented in your DRP with their assigned responsibilities.
It’s important to discuss budgets for both time and resources well in advance to eliminate the need for approvals when purchasing recovery tools or services.
Step 3: Produce Company Infrastructure Documentation
Having a step-by-step walkthrough of your current network configurations will ensure your IT recovery efforts are executed properly. There’s no telling how severe the data loss or corruption will be.
But leaving a blueprint of your current network infrastructure ensures your IT team will be able to properly rebuild and recover your systems. Having a plan to follow gives your IT recovery team a solid head start in reconstructing your infrastructure.
All documentation should be kept both offline and in the cloud. No matter what, it should be easily accessible to the people that need to see it.
Step 4: Decide on Data Recovery Solutions
When it comes to choosing the actual recovery method, there are a lot of options for your company to consider. You should decide on the direction you wish to take, whether that’s on-premise, outsourced, or cloud-based DRaaS solutions.
Each method of recovery will have different costs and capabilities to consider, based on the needs of your company. Storage capacity, recovery timeline, and configuration complexity will all be factors that affect your costs.
Step 5: Define Incident Criteria Checklist
Not every outage that your company experiences should be strictly classified as a disaster. However, you’ll want to list the criteria to be used before deciding to execute your disaster recovery procedures.
Every company’s needs are different. Deciding in advance how strict to keep your criteria will help you set realistic goals and manage your data recovery costs.
You don’t want to roll out the red carpet recovery plan for an electricity outage that lasts an hour.
But if an earthquake rattles your office to bits, you probably do.
Step 6: Outline Disaster Response Procedures
Once you identify an incident as a disaster, you will need to have a set of procedures to follow that will allow you to move forward with your disaster recovery efforts. This stage of your DRP is vital to ensuring you meet the RTO and RPO standards you established in the early stages of your objective planning.
Regardless of how automated or manual your recovery processes are, everything needs to be documented to ensure maximum efficiency. As you begin to identify each step of your disaster response protocols, you should make sure there are steps in place to validate the success of your efforts.
In the event of data loss and recovery, you will need to ensure that all files recovered are working and in good order.
Step 7: Perform Regular Testing
Your perfectly laid out disaster response procedures can be totally ineffective if they haven’t been thoroughly tested. Once you create a disaster recovery plan, it is imperative that you run regular testing on each procedure to confirm its effectiveness.
There are several ways to develop secure environments for your testing, regardless if you are using on-premise or cloud-based recovery options. Create a testing schedule for engineers and other essential staff. They can play through scenarios of outages and data loss, ensuring proper preparation in event of a real disaster.
Step 8: Keep Your Recovery Plan Updated
As your company grows, so do the needs of your disaster recovery plan. If you have implemented a regular testing schedule of your DRP, you’ll begin to identify necessary changes to keep your plan in line with your company’s recovery needs. You should make changes to your recovery plan as needed and record each change in a log.
As you make staff changes over time, you must train and assign to your new disaster recovery personnel. As you continue to make regular evaluations of your business needs, your disaster recovery plan will continue to adapt over time.
Bonus Step 9: Let the Experts Handle Your DRP
Preparing your company for unexpected outages and data loss is a critical step in sustaining your business. Going at it alone is certainly doable. However, you need to ensure that everything is going to go off without a hitch.
Here’s the good news: There’s no need to go at it alone. We can help you craft your disaster recovery plan and test it to ensure full functionality.
Need help making a DRP? Want professionals to look your DRP over? Have any additional questions about what goes into DRPs?