Disaster Recovery Plan

February 14, 2020
By: Mckay Hall

“Disaster recovery is similar to driving a car.  If the first time you get behind the wheel and actually drive is to try and make it down the interstate during rush hour traffic, it will be a horrific experience at best, and is likely to lead to another disaster. It’s important to have some experience and a feel for what to do when an organization needs to call on its disaster recovery plan(s)” (

So, even if there is a desire to take the disaster recovery plan out for a test drive, you may still have the questions, what exactly is a disaster recovery plan?  On the face of it, the answer appears pretty straight-forward, it’s a plan to recover from a disaster.  But again, what does that really mean?  There are large disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires, but there are also small disasters that can include machines or drives that die without being able to recover the data, equipment being stolen, or even an unfocused employee deleting significant amounts of information.

A disaster can be any event that causes an organization to be unable to fulfill its commitments.  A disaster recovery plan is the set of information and planned actions to address a disaster when it occurs. While a plan can be fairly complex, there are four basic questions that should be asked and documented:

  1. What is the organization’s purpose
  2. What tools do we have to fulfill that purpose
  3. What information is needed to fulfill that purpose
  4. Who is needed to work with the information and tools to fulfill that purpose

As the questions are answered, make sure the answers are documented.  Be specific with the tools, information, and personnel questions.  For example, the organization’s information system consists of computer hardware, network hardware, software to run the computers, software to manage the processes, and software to hold and manage the data.  Be sure to note what type of computers are used, what minimum memory and storage requirements there are, list the software applications as well as the versions and any known dependency issues.  Make an information map, which is: what information is stored in the system and on the network, where it is stored, storage size and speed requirements, and any privacy or compliance requirements.

Once the answers to those questions have been documented, document the steps that will be needed to replace, rebuild, or reconstruct the detailed answers to the questions.  Consider documenting where to go to buy the hardware and software and what the turnaround times are from order to deployment are likely to be.  Also consider, who in the answer to question four needs to be called in, relied upon, or have a  replacement individual designated, if unreachable when disasters occur, either large or small.

Each organization has its own set of tools and processes, and will have to overcome disasters in its own way.  If there hasn’t been a disaster recovery plan put in place previously, the idea of putting one together might be a little daunting.  These questions, however, are a simple starting point for any organization that needs to put together a disaster recovery plan for the first time.

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