successful disaster recovery plan

8 Steps to a Successful IT Disaster Recovery Plan

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From large-scale enterprises to small companies, no business is immune to the dramatic impacts of sudden data loss or even temporary outages. These incidents directly affect the daily operations of an organization. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, 93% of companies that reported losing their data center for 10 days or more, go out of business within a year. At the time of disasters or security breaches, organizations need a well-crafted disaster recovery plan (DRP), one that can save them from extended downtime and unrecoverable data loss.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan? Is it Important to Have One?

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a well-documented approach focused on business continuity at the time of natural or human-interfered security incidents. A DRP includes a set of policies, tools, and procedures that ensures the recovery of lost data and the continuation of daily operations of a business. The listed reasons suggest why DRP is vital for the health of an organization:

  1. Protects data against the after-effects of natural disasters

DRP ensures that your business continues to perform daily operations even after being affected by natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, or others. It helps you maintain a manageable downtime while you face uncontrollable events.

  1. Reduces the impact of cyberattacks

Cybercriminals are focusing on organizations that possess unprotected data. A DRP helps organizations retain valuable data if lost at the time of a cyberattack.

  1. Keeps client’s confidential data safe

Losing your customer or client data affects an organization’s reputation and brand name. A DRP ensures that maintaining a backup helps the information stay stored in a controlled environment.

8 Steps to Creating a Successful Disaster Recovery Plan

Follow the given steps to create a healthy, successful disaster recovery plan.

Step 1: Set Clear Recovery Objectives

The primary motive to develop a successful disaster recovery plan is to reduce downtime and the cost of data loss. Set key objectives with RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective), so that you can build an optimal data recovery plan. These parameters help you decide how quickly you need to take steps to recover the data.

An RTO determines the operational downtime within which the system should have its full recovery. An RPO evaluates the maximum limit for manageable data loss that won’t lead to a catastrophic impact on business.

Step 2: Identify Involved Professionals

There should be a clear identification of all the included personnel, including internal and external members. The DRP should have documented information on how and when to contact each member. It should also cover their assigned responsibilities in detail.

Also, having a pre-approved budget for resources (recovery tools and services) will help ease the flow and build a successful disaster recovery plan.

Step 3: Draft a Detailed Documentation on Network Infrastructure

A step-by-step guide on network configurations will help with the execution of the data recovery process. A holistic blueprint of the current network infrastructure ensures proper rebuilding and recovery of the entire system. The detailed documentation increases the chances of successful reconstruction of corrupted network infrastructure.

It’s advisable to keep all the documents offline and in a private cloud. Either way, the document should be easy for all personnel to access.

Step 4: Choose Your Data Recovery Technique

There are many types of data recovery solutions, such as hard drive recovery, RAID recovery, tape recovery, optical recovery, and more. Selecting the right one for your organization is critical. To choose one of these solutions, consider the requirements of the organizations – on-premise, outsourced, or cloud-based DRaaS (Disaster recovery as a service).

Each data recovery method has its set of capabilities, making it costly or bringing it within your budget. There are a few factors that affect the cost of recovery solutions – storage capacity, recovery timeline, and configuration complexity.

Step 5: Explicitly Define an Incident Criteria Checklist

Every organization faces temporary outages, but these incidents cannot be used to initiate a disaster recovery procedure. No organization would carry out a recovery procedure for a temporary electricity outage, but if it is due to a natural disaster, then the incident needs to be taken into consideration.

Creating an all-inclusive checklist for identifying a disaster will help the recovery team to execute DRP as quickly as possible.

This checklist will differ for every organization, depending on their goals and budget for data recovery. Even the decision to strictly follow this checklist or not is entirely upon organizations.

Step 6: Document Your Entire Disaster Recovery Procedure

After successful identification of a disaster recovery incident, a documented set of procedures help in carrying out the disaster recovery strategy. The DRP should be in accordance with the already established RTO and RPO standards. Both automated to manual processes included in the plan should be neatly documented for maximum efficiency of the DRP.

It’s important that at the end of the disaster recovery procedure, all the recovered data should be in an operational state.

Step 7: Regularly Test Your DRP

Your DRP can fall flat if not tested regularly. A thoroughly tested plan is reliable and has a higher chance of giving effective results. For a functional DRP, all the included steps should be routinely tested.

The entire disaster recovery team should participate in these tests. Playing real-time scenarios of data loss and cyberattacks helps the team to stay ready for the unexpected event.

Step 8: Keep Updating Your Recovery Plan

With the growth of the company, the DRP needs to be updated. If your DRP goes through regular testing, then there are fair chances that you will come across some limitations in your existing plan. Keep eliminating these flaws so that the new changes will be aligned with your company’s requirements. Also, with every change in DRP, maintain a log for the same.

The list of involved members should chance as the staff changes. The new members should be trained and assigned their responsibilities as soon as possible. This step will help your DRP to evolve with time.

Disasters are unavoidable, but having a disaster recovery plan helps limit potential damage, getting back to operational mode quickly, and lower the damage cost. To learn how to stay operational at the time of another WannaCry or Hurricane Maria, check out EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (E|DRP). The program is developed by the experts of the industry and follows different regulatory compliance standards like NFPA 1600, NICE framework, and many others. It is a hands-on program, which ensures that you gain all the technical skills as a trained disaster recovery professional.

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