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Avoiding the Five Biggest Disaster Recovery Mistakes

Having a disaster recovery (DR) plan is critical for businesses of all types and sizes. This concept is a given but creating and executing good and comprehensive DR plans for most organizations is complex and difficult. Businesses today have sophisticated and interconnected infrastructures that have lots of moving parts, which makes it difficult to completely protect all of the different components. Let’s have a look at the five biggest DR mistakes that your business should try to avoid.

 

 

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  1. Inadequate testing of your DR plan — Without a doubt, the biggest mistake to avoid in your DR planning is not adequately testing. Just like programming, where an application needs to go through multiple iterations of development and testing before its ready to be released into production, the same is true of your DR plans. If you do not test your DR plans, then you can be certain they will not work when you need them. Even the best-laid plans will fail if they are not tested. Today’s IT environments are simply too complex to rely on a DR plan that is untested.
  2. Inadequate copies of your recovery data — The next big problem is not making enough copies of your critical DR data. Backup data corruption is the number one cause of failure for restore operations. The best way to protect your company from media-restore failures is by following the 3-2-1 backup rule. Make sure that you have at least three copies of your backup data with two of those copies on different media types. One copy should be kept offsite.
  3. Failing to account for the business requirements –- The real driver behind any successful DR plan are the requirements of the business. Rapidly restoring business functionality is the main purpose behind your DR strategy. Representatives from all company departments should participate in the DR planning process. They should know their roles in the event of a disaster. The different business department owners need to be involved in the planning process to ensure that your DR plan has properly prioritized the right recovery steps. They need to be involved in the testing and the execution processes and making sure that the different business areas know the DR responsibilities. Everyone should be informed about the ongoing restore process.
  4. Overlooking the people involved –- Having a DR plan in place is great but having trained personnel that know how to execute the plan is even better. It is not enough to come up with a plan and then neglect training the people that will enact it. The people in your company are the ones who make your DR plan actually work. Everyone should understand their roles and responsibilities. Plus, they need to be involved in regular testing to ensure that they can perform their duties in the event of an actual disaster.
  5. Not updating your DR plan –- It is not enough to develop a DR plan and then leave it to sit. Business is dynamic and new projects and initiatives are continually being developed and implemented. Likewise, your DR has to be continually updated to reflect the current business environment. If you just let your DR plan stagnate, then it will not be able to properly protect all of the business changes that happened since original development of the plan. You need to schedule regular reviews of DR plan with representatives from your different company departments. This will help to ensure that your DR plan will successfully protect your current environment.

While everyone hopes that they will never need to use it, your DR strategy is critical to your organization’s ability to weather a disaster and quickly resume normal operations for your mission-critical applications. Avoiding these five critical DR mistakes can help you ensure that your DR plan will be successful and effective if and when you need to put it into action.

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Michael Otey is president of TECA, a technical content production, consulting and software development company in Portland,

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