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February 01, 2023

Everything You Need to Know about Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

The evolution of technology has allowed organization’s to digitize nearly all aspects of their business. While this has allowed companies to improve performance and speed, it has also opened the door to a number of new potential issues. Natural disasters, cybercrime, and even simple power outages can all impact digital aspects of a business. Creating an effective disaster plan with a strong recovery time objective in mind will allow a company to resume operations as soon as possible after such an event occurs.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery (DR) plan is a written document that outlines extremely detailed instructions for steps to follow if there is a disruptive event that impacts a company. A standard DR plan will include information on how to minimize downtime following a disaster so that business operations can get back underway.

Disaster recovery plans are meant to only be used in a worst-case scenario situation. To put it into perspective, needing to turn to activate a DR plan should be a situation bad enough where normal business operations cannot resume at a standard location.

Why is a Disaster Recovery Plan Important?

Over the last few years, 82% of companies have experienced some form of unplanned downtime. Without a disaster recovery plan in place, companies will have to plan and take action after the disaster, rather than having policies in place prior to the event.

Depending on the size of a company and the specific industry, every minute of downtime a large company faces could cost between $5,600-$9,000, with smaller businesses facing a cost per minute of $137-$427. On top of this, these downtime costs are unrecoverable. Companies that don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place may take hours to get operations underway, whereas those with a plan could get up and running in under an hour. This can save potentially tens of thousands of dollars resulting from extended downtime.

Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan

Beyond simply saving costs, a disaster recovery plan features some of the following benefits:

  • Minimized recovery time and reduced delays
  • Improved security through backups and protection of data
  • Reduced need for last-minute panicked decision making
  • Less legal liability
  • Uninterrupted employee productivity

With so many potential benefits, not creating a disaster recovery plan is just leaving money on the table. Build an effective DR plan based on your organizational needs and potential disasters to ensure maximum protection.

Items to Include in Your DR Plan

Nowadays, companies have started to move away from a physical recovery approach so as to avoid human error. Modern disaster recovery plans are completely automated and programmed to kick in immediately when a disaster occurs. There are also cloud based recovery providers who standby to assist during an event. Regardless of the type of business you have, there are five main items that should be included in all disaster recovery plans:

1. RTO and RPO

Setting a recovery time objective and recovery point objective are two of the most important aspects to a DR plan. These outline the acceptable amount of time from the point of disaster to when the business is back online and the acceptable amount of data a company is willing to lose. By defining these parameters, a company can design a stronger outline for a DR plan.

2. Disaster recovery sites

An effective disaster recovery plan will include a list of backup locations where hardware or software can be moved in the event of a natural disaster. Ideally, a recovery site will be in a location that would be unaffected by the disaster that caused the problem in the first place.

3. The identification of sensitive data

Identifying the most sensitive data in your organization can allow a person to determine the software and data that needs to be protected most. Create a list of the data which should be backed up and recovered before any other data.

4. Current hardware and software on-hand

Companies should always maintain a list of any software or hardware they currently have on hand. In the event of a disaster, this can allow a company to identify which items out of their total inventory are down. Additionally, listing on-hand inventory can allow a company to categorize their equipment as critical, mid-tier, and non-critical.

5. The roles of personnel in the plan

Creating roles in your DR plan will help to reduce confusion when a disaster occurs. Determine who will announce the disaster, who will troubleshoot data, who will manage the crisis, and more. By setting these roles ahead of the disaster, employees can focus on fixing the issue rather than spending energy on deciding who should do what.

Tips For a Successful DR Plan

Keep in mind that a disaster recovery plan is not meant to prevent a disaster. However, a successful DR plan will get your business back online faster than simply reacting to the disaster when it occurs. Use the following additional tips when creating your plan:

  • Run drills on an annual basis
  • Gather a team of experts to help design the plan
  • Create a playbook for the disaster recovery plan
  • Establish a communication plan with your team ahead of time
  • Set up a preferred alternate backup operational location

Currently, only around 54% of businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place, which means nearly half of all companies are at risk to lose thousands unnecessarily. It’s always a great idea to hope for the best, but avoid taking losses by preparing for the worst.

Take preemptive action to avoid total disaster

A disaster recovery plan will look different depending on the organization creating it. Due to this, there’s no single way to create a DR plan. Simply ensure that the most sensitive data in your organization is both backed up and protected, with contingencies in place to recover that data. Whether you’re faced with a natural disaster or cyber criminal, preemptive action is the best way to minimize potential monetary losses.

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