What is a disaster recovery plan (DRP)?

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is the set of steps a business needs to take to keep its data safe and keep functioning after a significant disruption.

The goal of a DRP is to minimise the overall risk to a business’s processes, its infrastructure and its overall continuity, whether that be the risk of a cyber attack, data corruption, hardware failure, theft, employee error or natural disaster.

What a DRP does is enable a business to not only survive the disruption, but to continue operating while the effects of the disaster are being sorted out, and ultimately make a full recovery after the disruption.

There isn’t a prescribed way for a business to recover because no two businesses are the same. Each business will need a tailored DRP for its own particular and unique critical operations to carry on with normal processing.

There are five key things to do when preparing to create a DRP for your business:

Analyse your business processes

These are the processes you can’t you do without, including data processing, admin, banking, production, operations, customer service, marketing, sales, IT and information security.

Identify your continuity needs

These are the things that absolutely have to function for your business to carry on, such as transactional data processing, banking, admin and information security.

Perform a risk analysis

This is the process of identifying the type of hazards your business could be vulnerable to and how you can avoid each one of them.

Work out your recovery point objective (RPO)

This is how far back your data needs to be restored to for operations to continue uninterrupted. For example, if your most recent data backup is last night at 8pm, then that’s your RPO.

Work out your recovery time objective (RTO)

This is how long it will take you to have a working service in place from the time of disaster until the service is ready for your business to use.

Once you have this information, you’ll be able to set out the steps you and your colleagues need to follow, decide exactly who will do what, which communication has to be sent out, and what kind of services you need to maintain business continuity.

Some large businesses are comfortable creating and executing a DRP themselves, but if you don’t have the manpower or know-how to create and implement one, you can get assistance. For example, with disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), a dedicated provider will see to protecting your business data and provisioning a recovery plan to utilise when needed.

DRaaS: Disaster Recovery as a Service

DRaaS is becoming a common solution for small to medium-size businesses. It’s a service that will ultimately protect one of the most important assets of any business: its data.

If a business suffers a disruption it wants to ensure minimal downtime. A business that’s disrupted and unable to transact physically and/or electronically results in exposure to revenue loss and opens the door to competitors. Your customers will suffer from a lack of service. This can lead to irreparable reputational damage.

DRaaS can also help you with compliance. In the case of internal data corruption or data becoming damaged, having a clear disaster recovery solution in place will help you restore and recover this data with zero or minimal disruption.

If you decide to go the DRaaS route, make sure the provider you choose offers regular simulation schedules as part of the package. You need to be able to regularly test your recovery system to feel confident that you’ll recover your data as quickly as necessary if and when disaster strikes.

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