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3 min read

Ask an IT Guy: How to Create a Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Whether you call it a plan, template, checklist, or strategy, your disaster recovery plan is your key to success when disaster strikes.

And no, a disaster recovery plan is not the same as your backup – think of it as your backup’s bodyguard.

Jonathan Barger, CIO (Chief Information Officer) at VC3, Inc., spoke to us about what disaster recovery plans do for your business.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

As mentioned above, the disaster recovery plan (DRP) can be confused with a backup plan. But they are distinctly different, and both have their place in your greater IT strategy.

“Usually the disaster recovery plan goes hand-in-hand with the backup plan. But it’s important to distinguish between the two. Most times, backups are for recovering an accidentally deleted file or folder. It's a day-to-day data recovery situation.

Disaster recovery is for bigger events. Its goal is to help you get back on your feet when something takes down a significant portion of your operations. It can range from an office mishap to a natural disaster. Think fires, floods, viruses, etc.”

Why Should I Write Out My Disaster Recovery Plan?

No matter how many times you’ve been on an airplane, the flight attendants still repeat the safety rules. And while most of us have tuned them out, you’d know what to do in case of an evacuation, right? Maybe not?

That is why your disaster recovery plan needs to be documented. In the case of a disaster, everyone will know exactly what to do.

“So, let’s say there’s a fire. Naturally, chaos ensues. The disaster recovery plan gives you the ‘what now?’ process.

"This document will have a detailed outline of what to do when a disaster happens. This minimizes panic while setting a chain of events in motion to fix the problem. Basically, it’s a set of steps for what to do when any disaster happens.”

This is your roadmap to disaster recovery success. Everyone will know what to do, much like a calling tree or planned fire route. You don’t realize how important they are until the building is on fire and you need to find the closest exit.

How to Write a Disaster Recovery Document

Step one is knowing that you need a plan. Step two is creating a document that has the information available in case of an emergency.

“The template is something that accounts for a combination of hardware and software. The hardware to store the data, and software to run the server(s).

There are some parts of the document that are mostly boilerplate. It can be the same for anyone. Things like “call your service provider to begin getting your data back.” All those steps are going to be the same for any disaster recovery plan document.

The other portion of your plan is tailored by need. It details what amount of downtime is acceptable, and recovery time expectations.”

This is where your IT department or managed IT service provider is the authority. They know your system and have a detailed inventory of your hardware and software. Chances are they have a disaster recovery template outline, which they’ll fine-tune to you.

Your plan should be both a physical document and available electronically. Just in case one or the other is affected by the disaster at hand.

If you need some help creating this document, check out the article: Crash Support: What's Your Disaster Recovery Plan?  for more details on establishing the right disaster recovery plan for your business.

🔎 Related: Data Backup and Storage Options for Small Businesses

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