6 Steps To Forming A Solid DR Plan

They’re called Disaster Recovery Plans, but perhaps they should be called Disaster Recovery Pre-Plans instead.  Nearly all the work is done months -even years- before the disaster actually happens.  The plan needs to be in place, ready to roll, whenever an accident might occur.

Creating a disaster recovery (DR) plan requires substantial legwork, but it’s absolutely necessary for a business today.  As operations increasingly require a functioning network and reliable data storage to function, their disaster planning has to keep pace.



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Your Business Information is at Risk! Here’s why you need Comprehensive Data Backup and Recovery Protection

Disaster Recover Statistics:

Cited Statistics

93% of companies that lose their data center for 10 days or more file for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year. The remaining 70% fail within five years.(Home Office Computing Magazine)
Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. (Mozy Online Backup)
Companies that aren’t able to resume operations within ten days of a data disaster are not likely to survive. (Strategic Research Institute)
Recovering a failed hard drive may cost thousands and success is not guaranteed
A national Harris Interactive survey of 597 computer users reveals:

Recovery Backup Restoration Data Storage Security on a laptop computerNearly three out of five personal computer users have lost an electronic file they thought they had sufficiently stored
One in four users frequently back-up digital files, even when 85 percent of computer users say they are very concerned about losing important digital data.
82 percent keep a hard copy of important documents they’ve also saved electronically
Thirty-seven percent of the survey’s respondents admitted to backing up their files less than once per month
Nine percent admitted they have never backed up their files
More than 22 percent said backing up information is on their to-do list, but they seldom do it
Miscellaneous stats about computer data loss:

32% of data loss is caused by human error
31% of PC users have lost all of their PC files to events beyond their control
25% of lost data is due to the failure of a portable drive
44% of data loss caused by mechanical failures
15% or more of laptops suffer hard drive failures
1 in 5 computers suffer a fatal hard drive crash during their lifetime
The overall average failure rate of disk and tape drives is 100% – all drives eventually fail
2,000 laptops are stolen or lost every day


1 – Select Personnel.

A DR plan will touch on all operational areas, so you’ll want more than one person -preferably several- who are all attached to the project.  Ideally, these are people with a better-than-average understanding of the “big picture” of your business.  IT staff will, of course, be involved, but HR, Budgeting, and Operations Management will need to have input as well, at the least.

2 – Conduct A Business Impact Analysis

Broadly speaking, this answers the question, “What systems can we least afford to lose?”  Through departmental interviews and systemic overviews, a good DR plan identifies and targets the most critical systems required for continuity of business.  As an obvious example, if your business uses a central server/controller for their network, that server MUST be kept operational and/or backed up at a different location.

This analysis will necessarily also include cost figures on the per minute/hour/day expenses associated with downtime.

DR can theoretically protect/backup all systems within a company, but costs pile up for every additional layer of security.   If your company can live without something for a day, it probably doesn’t need disaster recovery protections.

3 – Conduct A Risk Assessment

Having identified your key systems / departments / people, the next step is realistically assessing risk factors that could lead to these systems’ disruption.  These could include, but are certainly not limited to

4. Find Your RTO and RPO

We’ll cover these more in-depth in future blogs, but your RTO andRPO are the other critical elements to determine.  In brief, these are:

Recovery Point Objective (RPO):  How much data can you afford to lose?  If your RPO is “four hours,” that basically means your data is backed up every four hours, but in the case of a data disaster, anything less than four hours old will be lost.  RPOs can range from days to minutes, depending on the importance of the system and what you’re willing to pay for protections.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO):  How long can your operations last without access to power / data / networking?   Your RTO is the maximum amount of time it should take to restore working operations, even if in a temporarily reduced form.

5.  Source Solutions

At this point, you have everything you need to put a solution in place.  Largely, the technology will be dictated by previous determinations.  This is where an experienced networking specialist can be invaluable.  If you have the above information, they can quickly build solutions that will meet your business needs.

6.  Test And Retest

Finally, any good DR plan must be accompanied by regular tests, audits, and readiness drills.  We recommend this happen at least twice a year, to ensure all your systems are still working as intended.  You never know when an actual data disaster will happen, so you have to know your DR systems are ready.