How To Create An Effective IT Disaster Recovery Strategy

disaster recovery strategy

Digitizing your business comes with unprecedented efficiencies. But as you add more data to your infrastructure, you open yourself up to cyber attacks, additional compliance requirements, and risk. Whether it’s an attack by a hacker or the storm of the century, so many potential disasters can take your business offline. 

And attacks are on the rise: 68% of businesses say their risk profiles are increasing. Your business can’t risk a data breach or loss, but with attacks happening every 39 seconds, you need a comprehensive action plan for disasters. 

Protect your sensitive organizational data as well as your patient, customer, and employee data with a disaster recovery plan (DRP). Disaster can happen to any organization and at any time—a solid recovery plan will help you get back to business as quickly as possible. 

Let’s dive into what a disaster recovery plan is, why it’s beneficial, and 5 ways your organization can create an effective DRP. 

What is a disaster recovery plan (DRP)?

When you need to minimize downtime, understand your risk profile, and stay compliant, it’s time to write a DRP.

A DRP helps your organization get back online faster, recovering more of your essential data as quickly as possible. A disaster recovery plan makes the difference between going offline for just a few hours or for weeks.

A DRP details how your organization will respond to an incident. It’s a written playbook for what your team should do when the worst happens. Although you can’t predict every potential situation, a disaster recovery plan will help you make good decisions when seconds matter. 

Why do organizations create a DRP? 

No one can predict the future, so it’s tempting to say, “My team doesn’t need a disaster recovery plan.” But even if your DRP can’t anticipate every potential scenario, it’s still an incredibly valuable tool for building a more resilient business. 

Organizations invest in a DRP because it:

  • Protects critical data: A DRP helps you proactively protect your data by decreasing your risk profile. Not only will you lock down valuable data, but you’ll store it safely and securely with the right backups. 
  • Ensures compliance: Many organizations are required to write a disaster recovery plan. Whether it’s required in your industry or not, a DRP helps your team stay on top of data requirements like GDPR, HIPAA, and FERPA.
  • Keeps your business moving: Don’t let a power outage shut down your entire business. A DRP helps you eliminate downtime by anticipating how you’ll react to a disaster. With a playbook for each potential scenario, your team will know exactly what to do to resume normal operations ASAP. 

Whether it’s a power outage, flood, tornado, or another unforeseen disaster, you need a recovery plan to address the inevitable outages that will hit your business. 

How to create an effective disaster recovery strategy

When it comes to IT, Murphy’s Law is king: “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.” Follow these 5 tips to create a disaster recovery plan that will stand up in the face of a disaster. 

1. Create a redundant system

Redundancy is a great way to create a fail-safe that keeps your business moving. In the event of a disaster, it’s likely that you’ll have an entire site fail. That’s why you need a redundant system that can operate if one data center goes down. Distribute your data across multiple storage options instead of storing everything in one data center. This way, you can recover more quickly if one site goes down. 

2. Use the public cloud

The cloud is more efficient than storing data physically at your office. It also gives your team immediate access to data, encrypting it so only authorized users access the information. In the event of a disaster, the public cloud contains all of your critical data, distributed through several sites to minimize the impact of the disaster.

The public cloud is also an affordable way to get the most out of the cloud without buying your own hardware, updating software, or conducting maintenance. There’s no need to own your own data center or worry about expensive upgrades, either.

3. Educate your employees

You can’t face disaster alone. If you’re going to the trouble of creating a disaster recovery plan, you need to educate, train, and test your employees on the plan. Your DRP should empower employees to take quick action. The plan should include:

  • Which employees are responsible for executing the DRP. 
  • How to access the DRP. 
  • When to execute the DRP. 
  • The resources that are available to your team. 
  • How the team will communicate during an outage. 

Your team has to know about the backup plan so they actually use it during an emergency. Conduct regular drills on your DRP so your team isn’t caught off-guard by a real emergency. 

4. Seek out and stop threats

Natural disasters aren’t the only kind of disaster that can upend your business: one hacker can cause millions of dollars worth of damages. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how susceptible your infrastructure is to cyber threats. 

That’s why your disaster recovery plan should include a thorough analysis of your vulnerabilities. Ongoing vulnerability scans are necessary because your team is adding more data to your system every day. A DRP should encourage your team to analyze potential threats via connectivity, hardware, software, and more. 

Identify weaknesses by their threat level. This will help your team address the most important threats first that could compromise your most sensitive data. Over time, your team can address less critical vulnerabilities to build a more secure infrastructure. 

5. Automate backups

How often does your team remember to do manual backups? Small IT teams can save more time and better protect their data with automated backups. Your disaster recovery plan should detail how often you back up data, where you store it, and how to restore that data after a disaster. 

Don’t leave anything to chance. Automated backups will help you back up important data as soon as it enters your system, ensuring you don’t lose any valuable work in the event of a disaster. 

Create a better disaster recovery plan for IT

A disaster might not affect your business anytime soon, but it’s important to expect the unexpected in the world of IT. You don’t want to confront a disaster without a plan in place to resume operations. A disaster recovery plan is more than just a playbook: it helps you create systems that keep your business online when it matters most.

But you don’t have to plan for disasters alone. Dice Communications helps IT departments make the most of their resources with our team of always-on security experts. See how we can help your organization prepare for the unexpected.