A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented process used to protect and recover IT data and critical services in the event of a disaster. This could be a natural disaster, such as fire or flood, although these are unlikely to be a regular threat. The focus of a Disaster Recovery Plan needs to be on the type of threats that we continually read about these days:
- Virus attacks
- Human error
- Unplanned updates and patches
- Power outages
- Server and software failure
If your business has documented procedures for when such a disaster occurs, the impact is significantly reduced. The procedure needs to be easy to understand so that your organisation can mitigate against loss and ensure survival.
There are a number of key elements that you need to take into account when developing a disaster recovery plan.
The first thing you need to decide is What are the most important assets that need protection?
You must prioritise so that critical applications are recovered as quickly as possible. There’ll be applications that the business can survive without for a short period of time, but there will be crucial functions, such as client facing applications or email, that need to be recovered immediately.
Your disaster recovery plan should detail who is responsible for each task. Identify key roles and responsibilities to ensure everyone knows who should respond to which issue. This also helps improve communication and minimise stress for all involved.
If a third party is responsible for your disaster recovery it’s important that you and your provider are aware of each party’s responsibilities. This should be documented in the disaster recovery plan.
Getting critical systems restored as quickly as possible is key and every second counts. Define an acceptable recovery time in which both critical and non-critical data must be restored. Carry out a business impact analysis to help you to address any gaps in your recovery model and identify the critical elements of your IT infrastructure. This will help you create the right recovery timeline for your business.
The shorter your recovery time, the larger your budget needs to be. So when considering your recovery time, you also need to consider the related costs.
If something happens to affect your phones or email server do you have an alternative method of contact? It’s important that the individuals responsible for managing the recovery can communicate with the DR team and update employees.
Don’t forget to test
Your Disaster Recovery Plan needs to be tested regularly. As businesses grow and technology changes so will your plan. It should be tested once a quarter and updated as necessary. There are new threats being introduced all the time, so your plan should reflect how you would deal with them.
Disaster recovery strategies ensure that when your critical business data, IT systems and networks are disrupted there are processes in place to ensure that you can be back up and running again quickly.