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Efficient Testing of Disaster Recovery Plans - Key for Business Continuity

By CIOReview | Monday, September 26, 2016

Disaster recovery plan is a catalogue of processes designed to protect and recover IT infrastructure of the company during any disaster. Constant changes in technologies, application systems, and other company infrastructure demands regular plan validation to ensure the current functional ability of the recovery plan and capability to work in future scenarios. Without validating the recovery plan, a firm would not be able to ensure that the current set of DR plans support ongoing recovery operations necessary to sustain critical business operations during a disaster.

IT disasters are of different types: software or hardware failure, human error; likewise, planned testing can face similar incidences. The disaster recovery plan testing is of different types and levels, ranging from simple ones like paper test to complicated ones like cutover test. Testing verifies the authenticity of the recovery plan and assists in improving the plan. Disaster recovery plan testing involves checking all processes, people, and systems for flexibility and preparation for finding the gaps in the plan.

There are some simple methods to start with disaster recovery plan testing but organization needs to develop a long-term plan to streamline the testing of disaster recovery plans in an effective manner. A clear-cut timeline for each testing stage needs to be set to quell any chances of delay in the further processes.

An organization needs to start with making a simple checklist and walk through the list to ensure that every function is working properly. Developing a checklist is a simple process and demands minimum time and staff involvement.

An organization can perform technical disaster recovery tests on different systems because testing all systems at once is a bit complex and risky. IT manager can plan for the quarter or bi-annual technical tests so that all systems can be tested in a year or two. Technical disaster recovery testing regimen also involves testing backup and restore functions, power backup options, and others. All operations needs to technically test with real users while doing real production to get better results. Technical testing is recommended for all business firms irrespective of their size.

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Making Plans for Successful Testing

Proper planning is necessary for taking the best out of recovery testing because badly planned recovery test can turn into a disaster. IT manager needs to write down the possibilities and expectations of the result because it will differentiate between successful and unsuccessful test along with making plans to return to normal operations in case of test failure. All affected users need to be notified by the company about testing so their productivity will not be affected.

Documentation of disaster recovery tests is also necessary because without any record, nobody can deduce between before and after effects. By making a test report, the company can capture the results, which can help them in future testing operations. A well-designed report will help in finding the do’s and don’ts of the disaster recovery test, so these parts will be improved in future testing phases.

Testing involves endless variations with different, applications, systems, configurations, and organization types. Divergent testing makes company ready to counter any disaster hitting the firm’s IT infrastructure. A properly tested disaster recovery plan helps in reducing the impact of disasters and ensures proper working of business systems without any interruption.