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4 Components of a Disaster Recovery Plan Every Organization Should Have

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Imagine your business losing $5,600 every minute that your IT infrastructure is down. Unfortunately, if you’re hit with disaster, this may be the case. Gartner estimates that the cost of each minute of IT downtime is $5,600, and only 2% of companies are able to restart operations within an hour post-disaster.

While this is an alarming statistic as a business owner, fortunately, there are several backup and disaster recovery plans you can have in place. In this article, we’ll dive into the 4 necessary components of a disaster recovery plan that your organization should implement. 

Data Backup Plans vs. Disaster Recovery Plans

Though related, backup plans and disaster recovery plans differ from one another. 

First, what is a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery (DR) plan focuses on how an organization can resume operations following an impact to applications, networks, hardware, and/or databases caused by a weather event or a cyberattack. 

What is a backup plan?

On the other hand, a backup plan is the process that your organization follows to store all of your important business and customer files, software, and configurations in a secure, geographically separate location so operational information can be recovered as needed. 

Because your business generates a large amount of data and files, the risk of corruption, compromise, theft, or loss of this data can be crippling to your operations. Therefore, creating and implementing a data backup strategy, in coordination with a DR plan, can minimize system downtime and expedite a return to normal operations.

4 Components of a Disaster Recovery Plan 

The aftermath of a disaster isn’t the time to come up with a plan of action. Instead, it is critical to have a plan in place that is well documented, communicated, and practiced in order to protect your organization and prepare for recovery.

What does such a plan look like? Below are four key components that your organization should include in a disaster recovery plan to ensure that your business is prepared for the worst.

  1. Assessment of mission-critical systems
  2. Incident Response or Threat Management Processes
  3. Containment Strategies
  4. Plan Relevance and Updates

1. Assessment of Mission Critical Systems

As with other efforts, it is often hard to know where to start with DR and Backup planning, but conducting a system and data inventory followed by prioritization should be your first step. Identify all applications, hardware, software, configurations, databases, and batch processes run across your organization and use this information to identify which systems are the most critical to business operations. 

From there, expectations can be laid out for how each system can be recovered. Additionally, this is the time to determine how often each system needs to be backed up so the requisite planning can be done to meet those expectations. This can include the number of copies, the type of copies (file or image level), and how accessible the copies should be.

Resource: We know data security isn’t everyone’s forte, so we created a downloadable data security guide to walk you through how to prevent, detect, and contain a data security incident.

2. Incident Response or Threat Management Processes

Not all threats to your business operations will come with weather forecasts; unexpected threats such as earthquakes, fires, or cyber intrusions can come without warning. In any case, systems and processes must be in place to detect and report an intrusion or incident via technology (i.e., incident detection system) or employees’ word of mouth. 

Once the staff is alerted to an issue, system logs, and data can be reviewed so the scope of the incident, its potential impact, and how it should be escalated can be accurately determined.

3. Containment Strategies

Containment is an essential part of any disaster recovery plan. This component involves identifying the necessary staff and outlining their specific roles in limiting damage during a disaster. 

In the event of a cyberattack, this can include disconnecting a system from the larger site network to prevent the threat from spreading and preserving systems with sound forensics practices so further analysis can be done. Whatever the actions, coordination between IT staff and business leadership should be confirmed so the impact on operations from different disaster scenarios is understood before they happen. 

For natural disasters, the focus shifts to employee safety. The DR plan should detail safe locations for employees to shelter during an event and clearly define expectations for the immediate hours, days, and the weeks that follow. This ensures that all personnel are protected and informed about their responsibilities in the aftermath of a disaster.

4. Plan Relevance and Updates

Relevance in a disaster recovery plan refers to the necessity of keeping the plan updated to accurately reflect the current operational environment and technological infrastructure of an organization. It's essential that a DR plan evolves in line with any changes in systems, databases, and operational needs to ensure its effectiveness during a real event.  

Because a lot can change between the inception of your DR plan and a potential event, it should be a priority for your organization to keep the plan up to date as new systems, databases, and operational needs arise so your plan is properly aligned. A good rule of thumb is to review every six months or when a major system or operational change is initiated.

Securing Your Future Through Proactive Planning 

Effective disaster recovery and backup planning is crucial, not just for minimizing potential losses but also for ensuring your business's resilience in the face of unforeseen disasters. 

By implementing the four key components discussed – Assessment of Mission-Critical Systems, Incident Response or Threat Management Processes, Containment, and Relevance, your organization can safeguard against both predictable and unexpected disasters. 

A well-prepared disaster recovery plan not only helps to mitigate risks but also positions your business to recover swiftly and efficiently, thereby maintaining competitive advantage and operational continuity. Whether you are refining existing plans or developing a new strategy from scratch, these best practices will guide you in building a robust framework that protects your operations and supports your long-term success.

Data Security Guide: Prevention, Detection, and Containment