Top 5 disaster recovery mistakes

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Disaster recovery requires planning for the unexpected. At any given moment, your organisation could face a number of man-made or natural disasters.

10 October 20236 mins
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Disaster recovery requires planning for the unexpected. At any given moment, your organisation could face a number of man-made or natural disasters.

When disaster happens, only a carefully designed and implemented disaster recovery plan will get your business back on track. Not just any plan will do though. According to the 2014 Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey, 40% of businesses surveyed said their DR plan wasn't effective when disaster actually struck.

5 DR Missteps

Here are the five biggest mistakes organisations make when devising their contingency plans—and the ways to overcome them.

Mistake #1: Going It Alone

Creating a DR strategy may fall to the IT department, but no single department can shoulder the entire burden: Recovery is an organisation-wide responsibility. An effective DR plan must incorporate the viewpoints of frontline users, line-of-business leaders, financial managers, legal experts and others who can prioritise mission-critical applications and data. Consider working with an outside recovery vendor to refine the plan. A plan based on broad input will clarify the IT and business resources you must protect.

Mistake #2: Overlooking the People Part of the Equation

DR involves your IT equipment and data, but it must also account for physical facilities, power supplies, communications and people. You must train your employees to follow the DR plan and get your business back up and running quickly.

An effective plan will include options in case some personnel can't travel to the site. (Cross-training employees is one option.) In a worst-case scenario, you may need to bring temporary workers to an alternate location. With this in mind, create a recovery manual that includes step-by-step DR procedures (including passwords) and the location(s) of all system resources. Store these regularly updated instructions in several geographically diverse, accessible locations.

Mistake #3: Not Testing a Broad Range of Scenarios

Once you and your partner have established and communicated your DR plan, you're ready to recover—at least in theory. But the only way to know for sure if the plan will work under extreme pressure is to test it regularly under various what-if scenarios. Conducting both planned and "fire-drill" tests can help you identify and mitigate plan weaknesses while building your team's capabilities.

Often, it is only when businesses find that they cannot access the information that they need (either in the event of a disaster or to prepare for an audit) that data gets the attention it deserves. Be prepared for a potential disaster and protect your data with this free 'Five critical lessons' guide.

Mistake #4: Not Having Backup for Your Backup Plan

What if something goes terribly wrong when disaster strikes? During the 9/11 attack In New York City, for example, an unimaginable explosion took out the city's emergency command station at 7 World Trade Center. Many companies have struggled after a disaster because the disaster also ravaged their backup site(s)—or the backup files contained corrupted data or lacked the latest information.

No backup plan is foolproof; bolster yours by storing multiple backup copies using offsite tape vaulting. Building robust redundancy into your primary backup system improves the odds of a complete and prompt recovery.

Mistake #5: Considering Data Recovery a One-time Effort.

As your business grows and regulations change, your DR plan must also evolve. Plan to revisit and update your plan at least quarterly, as well as whenever key elements change—such as major personnel moves or the addition of new IT equipment.

While there may never be a foolproof disaster recovery plan, you can certainly craft an effective one. With careful planning, regular testing and periodic revision, your recovery plan will stay a step ahead of whatever could go wrong—bringing your business back on line quickly.

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