Over time, countless examples of natural disasters, technical malfunctions and malicious activity have helped to open the eyes of organizations failing to take necessary precautions and implement a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Without such a plan, a business’s ability to adapt to unexpected changes and sustain cash flow can be a significant challenge, potentially putting the future of the business at risk.
However, despite instance after instance proving the importance of disaster recovery, many businesses still fall short when it comes to planning for continuity. Let’s review why disaster recovery plans should absolutely be a part of any organization’s policies and procedures, in addition to specific types of disaster recovery that can help businesses keep their doors open.
What is disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery is a plan or strategy put in place ↗ to help a business rapidly resume operations following any unexpected disruptions caused by an unforeseen event. Each plan is personalized and structured for each business in meticulous detail, with regular reviews to ensure the plan is always fit for purpose.
Scenarios warranting or validating the need for a disaster recovery plan include cyberattacks, fraud or unforeseen circumstances such as an untimely power outage, all of which can result in costly downtime and the loss or breaching of data.
Generally, a disaster recovery plan is designed for areas of the business that are reliant on IT infrastructure, with the goal of recovering lost data quickly and minimizing or avoiding any system downtime or a lack of functionality.
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) can:
- Ensure operations continue with minimal downtime
- Provide resources to overcome potential catastrophes
- Reduce the financial impact and limit the damage of any disruption
- Outline operational alternatives to use during a disaster
- Restore operations as quickly and efficiently as possible
- Train employees in regard to cyber safety and what procedures to take in an emergency
When does disaster recovery come into play?
One of the most common reasons for the implementation of a disaster recovery plan is to limit the impact of potential cyberattacks. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant rise in cyberthreats ↗, mainly targeting individuals within a business in attempt to steal credentials and bypass security. The banking and healthcare industries in particular were subject to regular attacks.
Natural disasters are also a consideration when implementing a disaster recovery strategy, especially if businesses are based in areas that are often hit by hurricanes. If a natural disaster hits and there’s no continuity plan in place, there’s a chance support may not arrive in time. This can result in a lack of human resources, damaged equipment not being replaced and IT infrastructure being left in disarray.
Disasters of this kind can sometimes leave an organization vulnerable for days or even weeks. As well as the business itself, customers can also be put at risk as downtime and a lack of network protection presents an opportunity for fraud. New startups especially—typically strapped for cash and dependent on credit just to stay afloat—are adversely affected financially as a result. This is why a disaster recovery and continuity plan is vital to protect business operations.
How does disaster recovery differ from a simple backup?
The term backup refers to creating copies of data and information that’s important to a business. However, disaster recovery is much more complex than simply backing up files.
Data loss can happen on a regular basis, whether it’s caused by human error or an unexpected event. This is why most organizations store copies of internal data within a virtual storage environment such as the cloud.
A disaster recovery plan is more than just restoring files; it also helps to recreate the business’s entire IT system, including data, networks and applications, so that there’s no loss of functionality for extended periods of time. Disaster recovery also transfers any data from the temporary environment to the primary one once back up and running.
Is a disaster recovery plan the same as a continuity plan?
Disaster recovery is part of an overall business continuity plan.
A business continuity plan is a detailed strategy that ensures the processes and systems within a business continue even if unplanned circumstances make this difficult. The need for a continuity plan has become even more crucial as cybercrime continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, meaning businesses need to be more proactive in protecting their operations.
What are the different types of disaster recovery?
Different businesses require different disaster recovery plans depending on their IT infrastructure. There are four main types of disaster recovery plans that organizations typically implement.
1. Virtualized disaster recovery plans
A virtualized disaster recovery plan is one of the more budget-friendly options as it does not require a physical storage and recovery facility. This process creates virtualized copies of servers, network resources, operating systems and storage.
Implementing a virtualized solution means that these resources can be restored via virtual machine instances, which can take just a matter of minutes.
2. Cloud disaster recovery plans
As the name suggests, this type of disaster recovery plan utilizes the cloud environment. Cloud disaster recovery processes focus on the backing up of data and applications and storing them on a public or private cloud network so they can be accessed at any time.
This is a cost-effective solution that is similar to virtualization. However, prices can increase considerably based on requirements such as:
- The amount of bandwidth required
- The cost of the cloud storage solution
- The chosen security solution
- Implementation and compliance costs
- The location of the physical and virtual servers
3. Network disaster recovery plans
IT infrastructure can be severely tested by network failures, resulting in various departments being unable to do their job, thereby reducing security. A network disaster recovery plan ensures organizations will always have a reliable network connection to avoid downtime.
This plan can be broken down into three key procedures:
- A plan on who to contact should a network failure occur
- A procedure to replace equipment if required
- Training on what actions need to be taken to restore the network quickly
4. Datacenter disaster recovery plans
Suitable for large organizations that have their own physical datacenters, this type of plan involves detailed procedures that help to protect the data center itself. These procedures include risk identification, assessment, mitigation and resolution.
As well as the data center itself, the disaster recovery plan can also manage the risk of various elements within the building, such as security teams, support staff and even HVAC systems. A wide range of parties must be consulted, from the IT department to on-site security teams and the facility’s management personnel.
Implementing a disaster recovery plan for your business
Each business requires a bespoke solution that incorporates the types of disaster recovery plans detailed above. Primarily, the plan should focus on critical elements that the business needs to operate without any disruption to its clients, as well as protecting all the data stored within the organization. Not only should data be protected, but disaster recovery plans should also provide accurate estimations on the amount of downtime a business can be subjected to without any significant repercussions.
Need help implementing a disaster recovery plan for your business, or exploring your options for cybersecurity and backup solutions? Sherweb experts can help! Reach out to us to start a conversation or check out our Partner Guide for more information about how we can support your business.