December 5, 2017

Have You Tested Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

If a disaster recovery plan isn’t tested, your backups may have failed.

Most businesses of all sizes back up their data and applications as part of a broader disaster recovery strategy, but it’s not uncommon to become complacent. Whether they maintain a backup infrastructure themselves or adopt a managed backup service from a outside provider, many organizations take it for granted that their backups are running on schedule.

But they shouldn’t.

Organizations smart enough to implement a backup strategy often forget a critical step: regular testing. Although they may have double checked that their backups were working the first couple of times, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming they are backing up essential data and applications when there are more pressing demands on IT staff.

No organization today can risk downtime because it means lost revenue. Small to mid-sized enterprises often cannot survive the direct, detrimental impact to the bottom line caused by lost data and productivity, as well as the resulting negative perception of their brand.

It’s just a matter of time before you will have to put your disaster recovery plan into action, not if, so there are several things you can do to minimize business disruption, including managed backup.

Run a Fire Drill

Your data and applications are not static, nor is your primary and secondary infrastructure. A dynamic environment requires regular monitoring if you want peace of mind. Even if you outsource to a managed backup service provider, you want to test, test and test again.

Your disaster recovery drill must replicate the conditions that will be faced when an actual restoration is required, which will have undoubtedly changed since first setting up your backup procedures. This can be accomplished by pretending as if a data loss disaster has occurred by taking out your IT environment’s test servers.

Restoring data and applications from backups is more than just about copying them back to your primary infrastructure. You need to think through the restoration process to understand who is involved, what needs to be done and what hiccups you may face.

Create a Checklist

Deciding what must be backed up is not the only list you should make. Your disaster recovery plan should also outline test requirements for your backups:

  • It is essential that all data should be readable and recoverable from your backup media. Storage media is subject to defects, and files can be accidentally erased or overwritten. If your primary storage can fail, so can your secondary.
  • Make local and offline copy testing a baseline requirement.
  • Establish a test frequency for both local copying and cloud backups.

Your fire drill should ultimately demonstrate that you (or your managed backup service provider) can mount the backup and access the relevant files. You should be able to easily verify that a virtualized backup copy is bootable.

Add Managed Backup to your Disaster Recovery Plan

Backing up your data and applications may be essential to the health of your business, but for your IT staff, it can distract them from more strategic initiatives.

An experienced service provider can remotely monitor and manage your backup infrastructure, as well send your backups to their hosted backup repository, which reduces your CAPEX for hardware and adds redundancy. A managed backup service provider can also simplify onboarding by creating new customer accounts, provisioning services, and managing billing and invoicing for whatever cloud backup you require.

Finally, regularly testing and backup verification should be part of any reputable service provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Whether you do it yourself or adopt a managed backup service from a trusted partner, your disaster recovery plan must be tested regularly. It’s just a matter of when, not if, your organization will be faced with major data loss. Regular testing of your backups will not only minimize disruptions to operations and your customers, it will save your business.

To get a complete picture of what your disaster recovery plan should entail, download our Disaster Recovery 101 primer.