What should an IT disaster recovery plan include?

Remote Work Cybersecurity
October 25, 2022

What should an IT disaster recovery plan include?

These days, businesses of all types and sizes manage and create vast amounts of electronic data. While no one plans to fail, disasters—whether they’re man-made or natural—can strike at any time. Businesses need to restore threatened or interrupted services as quickly as possible, and disaster recovery plans allow them to do just that. Here, we’ll discuss these plans and explain how to create them.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

IT disaster recovery plans, which are sometimes referred to as DRPs, are sets of procedures and tools that companies use to recover from security breaches and data disruptions. Generally, DRPs help organizations react to disasters, mitigate damage, and resume operations while prioritizing risks and protecting sensitive data.

As far as information technology or IT services are concerned, disaster recovery plans focus on aspects including server downtime, employee workstations, databases, and getting crucial systems online. If an event such as a power outage, a DDoS attack, or a weather event affects data access and interrupts a company’s workflow, it’s considered a disaster, and a DRP can help a company get back online as quickly as possible.

Is There a Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning?

While many use the terms interchangeably, business continuity and disaster recovery planning are substantially different. IT DRPs outline how businesses will resume full operations after a natural or man-made disasters, while business continuity plans show how companies will continue to function as a disaster is occurring. For organizations with the human and financial resources to do so, creating business continuity and disaster recovery plans provides comprehensive protection.

Assessing the Company’s Vulnerabilities

To prepare for IT disasters, managers and executives must first know their companies’ vulnerabilities. If something is fundamental to an organization’s daily operations, it should be considered. Some of the most common weak spots include:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Connectivity
  • Technology

By understanding when and where things go wrong, companies can adequately prepare themselves to work around these issues. 

IT Disaster Recovery Plans and Inclusions

Strong DRPs should list potentially disruptive scenarios and outline how the company will respond. Since disasters are likely to keep employees out of work for extended periods, recovery plans must be ready to implement and easy to understand. As you’re creating a DRP, follow this plan checklist.

  1. Attainable goals. Outline the company’s goals for downtime and data loss thresholds, point objects, and recovery time.
  2. Backup strategies. Key team members should know how and where data is backed up and how to access it.
  3. IT inventory. Disaster recovery plans should list all hardware and software assets, their usage, and their importance to business operations.
  4. Team member responsibilities. Plans should name team members, outline their responsibilities, and select stand-ins.
  5. Recovery sites. A solid DRP must include the location of secondary data storage sites and backups.

Business disaster recovery planning is all about procedures—how the company will respond to crises and how teams will act to mitigate damage and back up sensitive data. Testing is another crucial component; it ensures that strategies can safely be implemented in the event of an emergency.

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

When building a DRP, follow these plan steps to ensure the inclusion of crucial details.

  • Audit the company’s IT resources. Before planning for a successful recovery, key team members must inventory the company’s infrastructure, so they know which information technology resources are used in day-to-day operations and how they’ll affect the company if they suddenly become unavailable. 
  • Identify mission-critical procedures. Decide which resources take priority during disasters, including hardware, software, network equipment, and data. The best disaster recovery plans get crucial services back online as quickly as possible.
  • Look for potential disruptions. Multiple scenarios may disrupt a company’s operations, and the nature of those disruptions depends on the area in which operations occur. For instance, tech companies are more susceptible to cyberattacks. To minimize the risk, departments must work together to assemble a list of latent threats.
  • Define roles. After assessing risks, decide how the organization will respond to them. Establish areas of responsibility and choose backup team members who can step in if a key person is unavailable. When everyone’s responsibilities are clearly defined, disaster recovery plans are more efficient and effective.
  • Set goals. Next, think about the speed with which the company should be able to recover—and how much information it can afford to lose. Known as RTO (recovery time objectives) and RPO (recovery point objectives), these calculations set the limits within which DRPs operate.
  • Focus on data. A workable disaster recovery plan prioritizes the data needed to restore function. For instance, data needed for payroll accounts receivable, and compliance should be a top priority. Protect this sensitive data by performing frequent backups and setting up secondary servers.
  • Store data remotely. Many companies back up data remotely, protecting it from outsiders and gaining the ability to restore it quickly in the event of a loss. Cloud-based data storage solutions automatically copy and download data at preset intervals, which streamlines the backup process. On the other hand, physical backups can be sandboxed, which makes it less likely that they’ll be corrupted by malware.

Now that the plan has been created, it must be tested periodically. When creating a DRP test, consider factors such as failure points, redundancy, recovery time objectives, recovery point objectives, and the types of disasters being simulated. With the evaluation of these factors, effective business disaster recovery planning becomes easier.

Test the DRP by conducting drills and assessing key team members’ reactions. Then, learn from their mistakes and modify the plan as needed. Periodic reviews, done at least twice per year, ensure that disaster recovery strategies remain relevant and reflect a company’s current IT and operational structures.

Early Planning Prevents Catastrophic Failure

Preventive actions are always best, and basic precautions do much to maintain the safety of information technology and everything it controls. In the end, though, all these systems are run by humans—which leaves a wide margin for error. When the above disaster recovery plan components are included, a DRP is the safest and most effective way to recover from all types of disruptions.


Rebecca Hoffman
Rebecca Hoffman

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