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disaster recovery planning steps

3 Ways to Prep for Disaster Right Now

by Maggie Getova

Putting together a solid disaster recovery plan comes with plenty of unique challenges. A lot can go wrong in a disaster, so it’s important to be fully prepared for when (not if) that day comes. So where do you start? It may seem like a daunting task at first, but there are some steps that you can take right now to get on the path to being DR-ready.

1. Review Your RPO/RTO

To build the foundation of a successful disaster recovery plan, you need to have clear and realistic goals – this is where RPO and RTO come in.

Your RPO (Recovery Point Objective) is how much data you are okay with losing, which could be an hour’s worth, a day’s worth, etc. Your RPO will point you to how frequently you need to complete backups.

You should determine how long you can afford to be without your data in case of a disaster, otherwise known as your RTO (Recovery Time Objective). Being without your data for too long isn’t just inconvenient – according to some reports, companies in North America and Europe have lost over $26 billion in revenue because of IT downtime. When employees are unable to work for prolonged periods of time and frustrated customers take their money elsewhere, this won’t just hurt business, but can even shut it down for good.

When you’ve determined your realistic RPO/RTO, you can then examine your backup/recovery practices with those in mind. If it turns out your current setup isn’t meeting your needs, you then know what you need to improve.

2. Send Your Backup Offsite

Offsite backup is one of the most important components of a solid disaster recovery plan. If your backup only remains in-house, it is vulnerable to any disaster happening inside your office building – be it a flood, an electrical fire, or anything else that can damage hardware. The good news is that you have a lot of options when it comes to getting offsite: you can send data offsite via tape, an appliance, or just by backing up directly to the cloud. As long as it is away from your building, it is considered offsite (though it’s a good idea to send it to someplace far enough away that it’s unlikely to be hit by the same disaster as your primary facility).

We recommend that you send your backup offsite as frequently as possible, at a minimum once a day. According to a recent survey, 85% of businesses currently send their backup offsite – if you’re part of the 15% that doesn’t do so, it’s time to come up with a solution.

3. Test Your DR Solution

It’s not enough just to have a disaster recovery plan written down. You also have to make sure that plan will actually work when something goes seriously wrong. The only way to do that is to test it, and keep testing it until you get the results you’re looking for – that doesn’t just include recovering servers but practicing with staff as well.

After you’ve worked out a successful plan, you still need to test frequently to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do and can execute smoothly. Sure, this endeavor takes up valuable IT time and resources, but the last thing you want to find out is that your DR plan doesn’t work in real life mid-disaster.

A carefully planned and tested disaster recovery plan may seem like a lot of work, but is worth it when that dreaded disaster actually happens and you’re trying to recover your data ASAP. And in case your IT department doesn’t have the resources to do all the planning involved with DR, a third party solution may work just as well. If you’re interested in ours, we’re currently offering free trials.

Maggie Getova
Maggie G

Maggie is a content writer and editor at Zetta. She writes for the blog and manages web content.