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How to Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan

By November 15, 2021No Comments10 min read
Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster recovery testing is a very important part of your disaster recovery plan. It will ensure that your disaster recovery plan is actually working. A disaster recovery (DR) plan simply consists of all the steps that you will take in case of a disaster. It will help you in recovering all the data and restoring business-critical applications.

A DR test is simply an examination of every stem in your DR plan. This plan is an important part of your organization’s disaster recovery and business continuity plan. You should evaluate your DR Plan regularly. This will ensure that you can recover your data in case of a breach. It will also ensure that you resume your business-critical applications quickly.

Many organizations are neglecting DR testing. This can cost you a lot in the future. Disaster recovery is generally very expensive. Thus, companies think that having a DR plan is enough for them. However, there is no proof that your plan will actually work in case of a real disaster.

If you are not investing your resources and time into testing your DR plan, then there is a possibility that your plan will fail in the real situation. Applications recovery, data recovery, and communications are the most important part of disaster recovery testing. There are other areas like your organization RTO and RPO which you can test.

Most experts recommend that you should test your DR plan regularly. This will ensure that you are always ready for disaster. After the test, you should create audit logs and analyze them. This will ensure that your plan is working properly. It will also help you in finding the changes that you need to make in your DR plan. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can test your Disaster recovery plan.

What is a disaster?

It is difficult to categorize a disastrous event. These events can be both natural and man-made. Some of the common disasters that can affect your business are:

  1. Natural disasters

Natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, tornados, and mudslides can affect your business. Any disaster that can throw your business plans into serious disarray should be considered. These events can break supply chains. Your employees can’t come to your office for doing your work. Also, it can affect your equipment or facilities. Thus, DR planning is very important for your business.

  1. Pandemics

The pandemic generally comes in the natural disaster. But, it deserves its own category now. Pandemic like COVID-19 can’t cause any damage to your equipment and facility. However, it can prevent your employees from getting to the office. Your supply chains will be broken. It can destroy the operational structure of your business. Most businesses have actually started working on their DR plan after the coronavirus situation.

  1. Operational disasters

There are various disasters that can affect your business operation. For example, if some very important manager or HOD leaves your organization, then your business will be affected. Your business will also be affected if some contract is broken.

  1. IT Disasters

These types of disasters can also affect your business. If some technology is malfunctioning, then you can’t operate your business properly. Most businesses are now fully dependent on IT for doing their work. There are various IT problems like network issues, security breaches, data loss, and server problems that can affect your business. They are generally due to human errors. Thus, there will be some identifiable cause that you can look for.

DR testing will help you in staying ahead of problems that can affect your business. It will ensure that in case of a disaster you can actually recover your data. According to a report from the National Archives and Record Administration, more than 90% of companies that lose their data for 10 days go bankrupt in a year.

How disasters can affect your business?

Disasters can sometimes completely kill a business. We are going to discuss some examples in this article. Also, we will share some disaster recovery testing strategies that can help you in protecting your business. These strategies will help you in reducing the recovery team. It will help you in ensuring business continuity. Every business will have different components. Thus, a DR plan that works for one business won’t work for other.

  • Sabotage: Theft or sabotage can lead to a data breach. You can lose access to your critical data. Also, attackers can hold your business to ransom. Due to this, system backup is always an integral part of the DR plan.
  • Natural disasters: Natural disasters can cause physical damage to your facilities. If you want to minimize the damage, then you should look for emergency procedures that you can use in case of natural disasters. You should also have a list of natural disasters that can actually affect your business.
  • Power cuts: Power cuts can lead to prolonged downtime. Your employees can’t work effectively if your network is down. Downtime can be very costly for your business. Thus, you should ensure that you have enough power backup in place.
  • Network failure: Most organizations are using technology for their communication and collaboration needs. Thus, your network should be always available. You can lose your clients if your network is down. DR will ensure that your IT infrastructure is always available.
  • Pandemic: Almost every business has experienced the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, most business already knows how to deal with the pandemic now. You should focus on improving your DR plan if you want to effectively deal with future pandemics. This will ensure that your business is ready for future pandemics.
  • Loss of key staff: If some of your staff members are very important for your business, then you should consider what will happen if they leave your business. A DR plan will ensure that you have additional staff training as a backup plan.

Goals of DR Testing 

The main goal of the Disaster recovery test is to ensure that your DR plan is actually working properly. It should meet your organization’s RTO and RPO requirements. You can use the audit report of the DR test as feedback for your enterprise. It will help you in improving your DR plan and protect your business from unexpected issues.

IT systems are dynamic in nature. You need to upgrade them regularly. Thus, they should be tested regularly. Servers and storage systems are upgraded or added regularly. You might deploy a new application that is not in your DR plan. Thus, you need to test your plan again.

Most organizations are moving to the cloud now. This is helping businesses in saving a lot of money. Thus, it is safe to say that almost every organization will move to the cloud. A DR test will help you in ensuring that your DR plan is keeping up with the IT world.

How to test your DR plan?

Disaster recovery testing will be different for every business. However, there are some universal and basic steps that you need to follow.

  1. Perform an IT audit

You should first understand what normal activity means for your business. This will ensure that you can restore your business to normality after a disaster hits your business. You need to find all the assets that are present in your network infrastructure.

First, you need to create a list of all the IT resources that are present in your network. You should identify what these resources contain. After that, you can start the process of consolidation. This will help you in streamlining your backup and recovery process.

  1. Identify mission-critical devices

This can be done when you are performing an IT audit. You will find a lot of data that is redundant. Thus, you don’t need this data to keep your systems running. If you are transferring redundant data to a backup server, then you will waste a lot of processing power. You should sort your redundant data. This will help you in saving storage space and reducing your backup file size. You will also save a lot of money as you are not storing redundant data.

  1. Create responsibilities and roles for everyone involved in the plan

Every employee in your organization should have a defined role. They should help you in executing your DR plan. Automated DR testing will only help you in testing the technical components of your plan. They won’t help you in testing if your team is ready for a real disaster. In case of a real disaster, your employees will be responsible for restoring your data and devices.

You should ensure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. This will ensure that your DR plan will be actually effective in case of a real disaster.

  1. Determine your goals

You should determine how quickly you want to recover your organization. Thus, you should set your RPOs and RTOs. You need to prioritize the data which is very important for your business. Also, you need to find the data which is not that important for your organization. If some data don’t require immediate access, then you can assign a longer recovery time to it. Thus, you don’t need to worry about backing up that data regularly. You can assign more urgent RTOs and RPOs to more important data like compliance and financials. Some companies are also setting up a backup server. This will ensure that your backup server can actually take over if your main server is down.

  1. Use cloud data storage solution

Disasters like ransomware attacks and cyberattacks can destroy your data storage solution. Due to this, you will lose access to all your data. Cloud-based solutions can help you in dealing with this problem. They will automatically download and copy your data after every few days. Manual backups are not efficient. You need to copy data to a USB drive or a disk. Your team will waste a lot of time on this. The best thing about a cloud-based solution is that it is completely automated. You can do it whenever you want. Also, you don’t need access to any physical media.

Your physical assets can also be damaged due to a disaster. Remote data backup will help you in minimizing business disruptions. It will ensure that you can quickly recover your data and resume operations.

  1. Review your DR plan

You should evaluate your DR plan after testing it. Make sure that your DR plan is meeting your current needs. There are various elements that you need to check when updating your plans.

Make sure that your staff members know about their roles and responsibilities. The tasks should be divided properly between your staff members. Also, the contact information of every staff member should be available.

Your IT systems will also change with time. You should ensure that your resources are allocated to the main services first. It is important to restore these services in case of a disaster.

You should also check if you are meeting your security requirements. Sometimes you can violate compliance requirements like PCI-DSS and HIPAA. If you are violating some compliance requirements, then you should update your plan. Make sure that you are regularly testing and updating your plan. This will ensure that your DR plan is keeping up with your business.

Conclusion

You can use these strategies for testing your DR plan. This will ensure that your DR plan is actually working properly. You should regularly test your DR plan. It will help you in updating your DR plan. However, implementing and testing the DR plan is a tough task. Thus, you should consider outsourcing this work to a good MSP. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire can help you in creating a unique DR strategy for your business. They will help you in implementing the DR strategy. This will ensure that your business is ready for disasters. They will also help you in testing your DR strategy. Bleuwire will help you in achieving greater peace of mind as you will have a strong and reliable DR solution. If you need more information regarding IT security services, then you can contact Bleuwire.

Contact us today to learn about Bleuwire™  services and solutions in how we can help your business.

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