Previously, we’ve talked about creating a backup plan and choosing backup solutions that will protect your vital data. Once those two pieces are in place, the final step is to create a disaster recovery plan -- a document that outlines how to use those backups to get your company up and running again after a major outage.
A disaster recovery plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be clear and understandable to both you and anyone else who may need to use it, even in the event that you are unavailable for some reason.
Building The Disaster Recovery Plan
The first step to building a disaster recovery plan is to gather all of the details that need to go into the plan. Make a list of the services or data that you may need to recover, and then list how each service is backed up. For each of those backups, write out detailed instructions on how to restore data from those backups, and how to get the service up and running again. (A DR plan is a great way to make sure all of your documentation is in order!)
In addition, you’ll want to include an estimate of how long it will take to recover a service to a useable level, plus how long it would take to completely restore the service. For example, in the event of a major storage failure, you may be able to restore recent or working data from a near-line backup in a few hours, but restoring all historical and archival data from tape may take a week or more. These estimates will come in handy to help you explain things to higher-ups in the event of a disaster, and will help you to prioritize your recovery efforts.
Finally, organize the recovery instructions by disaster scenario. For example, you may have a section for major hardware failures, a section for fire, flood, or natural disaster (“loss of facility”), virus outbreak, etc. List each recovery option in order of how optimal it is -- based on the time to recovery, how completely the service restoration is, and how likely it is to be successful, given the scenario. For example, daily offline backups are quick and easy to restore in case of a server failure, but if the building burns down, then you’ll only have offsite backups to work from.
Tests and Drills
A backup is only a backup if it actually can be restored. Be sure to set up reporting and alerting for any automated backups, so you can fix any problems with your backups ASAP. But, even if the backups work fine, be sure to do a test restore from time to time. This can be as simple as restoring a few files here and there and making sure that they work. But the time to find out that your backups are no good is not when you’re staring at your DR plan.
Also, make sure that any key staff are familiar with your DR plan. You can even hold drills from time to time, depending on the likelihood of the scenarios in your plan. What will you do to get your data restored if there’s a flood in your data center? How will you respond if ransomware hits your file server? Knowing the answers to these questions can be the difference between a successful recovery and a real disaster.
Storing The Plan
Once your disaster recovery plan is written up, print out a few copies and put them in a safe place. If the plan includes sensitive info, like passwords or keys to offsite backups, be sure to store it in a secure location, like in a safe in an executive’s office. But, make sure that the plan is accessible to you and your staff in the event of any disaster, even if you don’t have physical access to your office. It’s a good idea to keep a list of the copies of the plan that are out there, so that if changes or updates are made later, you can make sure that all of the copies get replaced.
Having a written disaster recovery plan can make sure that, if you do need to use your backups, you can get your data restored and your company up and running again as quickly as possible.
E-N Computers can help you to develop a backup solution and disaster recovery plan that is right for your business. Contact us today to find out how we can give you the protection you need from today’s technical threats.