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5 Cardinal Sins of Disaster Recovery Planning

A disaster recovery plan is one of the most important things for a business to possess. With technology supporting most – if not all – critical processes, it's key that a company has a written, promulgated policy for catastrophes.

When DR isn't carried out appropriately, a business can face serious losses in productivity and brand reputation. And many things can adversely affect those plans.

What are the top mistakes businesses make with their DR planning, and how can enterprises avoid these issues? Let's take a look at the five cardinal sins of disaster recovery:

1) Forgetting the basics
DR and business continuity are difficult, complex processes. With so many factors to keep in mind, administrators can sometimes forget to consider the basics. Forbes contributor Anthony Kessel noted that there are three foundational principles that should be applied to any DR plan:

  1. Ensure data is protected: Higher-ups and IT staff must ensure that there is a copy of all important data and assets stored in a safe location.
  2. Support connectivity: The next step is ensuring connectivity. Kessel pointed out that in order to access these items for DR purposes, copies must have sufficient computing resources in place.
  3. Outline DR responsibilities: DR is a multi-tiered process that will require participation from a range of company stakeholders. It's important to outline these responsibilities and ensure that everyone understands their role.

In the past, businesses have forgotten to back up key data. Others have their backups on point, but forget to factor in connectivity, meaning these copies are inaccessible. Some companies don't remember to fully outline responsibilities. Making assumptions with the DR plan is just as dangerous as not having one – processes fall through the cracks because employees don't understand their roles.

"Only 10 percent of a company's workload can be called "always on," leaving the remaining 90 percent in need of critical backup."

2) Assuming high availability is a built-in DR plan
Even worse than forgetting the basics is buying into some vendors' approach that high availability provides built-in DR. TechTarget contributor Jon Toigo noted that on average, only around 10 percent of a company's workload can be called "always on," leaving the remaining 90 percent in need of critical backup.

"While improvements have been made in high-availability technology, this changes nothing about the need for continuity planning," Toigo wrote.

Instead of relying on providers for a company's business continuity, it's best to take matters into your own hands. Having a plan in place is ideal – even if the company never needs it, DR plans can offer peace of mind that the organization is prepared.

3) Having unorganized backups
Another common issue in DR planning is having backups from different points in time. In order for DR to take place properly and seamlessly, assets must be recoverable from the same time period. For example, if a business backs up most of its data each night but a certain database is replicated hourly, synchronicity errors could take place when employees attempt to use these backups together.

4) Overlooking outlying data
It's also important to keep in mind that often, not all data is stored centrally – the business may have some data repositories stored in branch offices, desktops or mobile devices, Toigo pointed out. If disaster strikes, it's critical to not only have all centrally stored data backed up, but these outlying assets as well.

"[E]ven before the rise of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) era, companies weren't doing a very good job of including branch offices or PC networks in their data protection processes," Toigo wrote. "You need to rectify this gap and may find it possible to do so with a cloud backup service, provided you do your homework and select the right backup cloud."

Businesses must make sure that they have backups of their critical data and that these are accessible.
Businesses must make sure that they have backups of their critical data and that these are accessible.

5) Not taking advantage of DR resources
Whoever said DR assets can only be used for business continuity? Businesses often invest heavily to make sure they're prepared, but there are ways to leverage these investments for the good of the business – even if a disaster hasn't taken place.

"Think about it: you have all this storage. All this data. All this compute power. A perfectly-tuned DR environment that exactly matches your production environment. Are you really just going to let that sit there doing nothing for all but two days of the year when you actually do disaster recovery testing?" Kessel wrote. "Instead, use your DR environment every day to further your business aims. Use it for developers and testers. Break in new code. Perform penetration tests. Run big data. The possibilities – and the ROI – are enormous."

To find out more about disaster recovery, contact Hostway today.