How to Put Your Disaster Recovery Plan to the Test

You’ve worked hard to assemble a foolproof disaster recovery plan… but how can you tell if the plan actually works? When the time comes to put the plan into effect, having the plan fail on you can result in total catastrophe.

When coupled with the stress you’re already suffering, it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly.

Therefore, the key is to test your plans before trouble strikes. Without further ado, here are three simple ways you can test your disaster recovery plan to ensure its full effectiveness.

Create a Checklist

Naturally, it’s important to cover all of your bases when creating your disaster recovery plan. However, having a straightforward checklist in addition to the plan can be highly beneficial for those putting it into action.

Your disaster recovery plan covers the gist of everything – such as establishing a clear chain of command and dictating which functions of your business take priority for restoration.

Checklists should simpler and more granular. You should ask straightforward questions such as “Is there enough fuel for the generators?” and “Are the backup tapes safely secured off-site?”

Did you know: 22% of small-business owners have already been impacted by a natural disaster.

Act Out a Walkthrough

Planning for business continuity is similar to acting rehearsals. When actors perform their shows on Broadway, they don’t just get up on stage and wing it. They perform all their lines and choreographed movements flawlessly because they’ve taken the time to thoroughly practice and walk through their acts.

While you may not be winning any Oscars in the near future for your recovery plan, you should still practice each and every step of it.

A walkthrough of your plan includes getting everyone involved in it to look over their parts, verbally address any flaws, ask questions, and verify correct contact information.

Ensuring all contact information is correct and up-to-date between each person is critical. After all, the last thing you’d want is for a number to be incorrect or an email address to be misspelled when trying to contact everyone in the event of an actual emergency.

Perform a Live Cut-Over

There’s no better practice than performing live drills. It’s the single most effective way to check the readiness of your employees and effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan as it’s put into action.

So go ahead and flip the power off (preferably with the consent of the entire management team). You’ll get an accurate view of where the holes are in your plan, which you can then use to improve your recovery strategy.

The risk in this test lies in the confidence and preparation of everyone involved. If your team is blindsided by the simulated disaster, you may inflict unnecessary downtime on your own company.

In other words, it pays to follow the previous two steps to ensure things will go smoothly and that you’ll get the most out of the live cut-over.

Did you know: Human error (i.e., bad operations) is responsible for approximately 70% of all data center incidents.

The Next Step in Disaster Recovery Planning

Testing your plan is a critical step and you should do it multiple times per year. Things may change, so it’s vital to always account for changing variables and shifting conditions.

Now that you’ve tested your plan, the next step is to actually recover from the disaster. But how long does that process take, and what are some ways to speed it up?

Check out our next blog to find out.

Read part 2 of our disaster recovery blog series.

Read part 4 of our disaster recovery blog series.