NovaBACKUP Security Blog

How to test your data recovery plan [Video]

Setting and forgetting a data recovery plan is a big mistake that many companies make. In order to ensure that your backups are prepared for any situation, it's important to test your strategy.

Possibly the easiest way to test your plan is to do a dry run. This means creating a hypothetical situation for your team and having them execute their strategy. During this time, you want to look at how long it takes to recover files and any issues that come up.

By doing a dry run of your plan, you'll be able to verify if your backups are working and have peace of mind that they will be available during emergencies. The results of this effort can also go into revising and fine-tuning your strategy to have the best results. For assistance in creating a capable data recovery plan, contact NovaStor today! Thanks for watching.

Here are a few testing tips:

  1. Create a disaster recovery plan
    If you have not done so already, you need to create a disaster recovery plan. As the adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. To get you started, check out our article on How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan.

  2. Develop testing scenarios
    When developing your testing scenarios, think about the conditions you will have to face in a disaster situation, should you need to recover your entire system. You should try to identify as many real-life scenarios as feasible and plan for how you would deal with them. You could be talking fire, flood, virus attack, or simply a server that crashes. No matter the scenario, you need to think about where your backup is stored and where you would restore your data to. While you may have the luxury of restoring your data to a system with an identical configuration, you may need to restore your data to a completely new machine with different hardware. Either way, both scenarios should be tested. Some backup systems can be particularly picky as to what system they restore to. You should know how the solution you are using performs in different scenarios. If your solution requires that you restore to a secondary system with a hard drive that is the exact same size, you should know that. If you don't test the recoverability of your backups, there is a good chance that you will not be able to successfully recover when you need to.

  3. Set aside time to test your plan
    While this one may seem intuitive, the truth is we all get busy and if time is not dedicated to testing, you are setting yourself up for failure.  To be consistent about your testing, create a testing schedule and put it on the calendar, so that all key employees can participate in the companies disaster recovery testing. You want to give yourself ample time for testing to ensure that your plan does not have any flaws. Comprehensive Disaster Recovery plan testing should be done at least annually, with scaled down testing done at least once a quarter, or when there are any changes in hardware or software that could effect your backup system.

  4. Identify responsible parties
    Everyone that plays a role in your disaster recovery plan should be fully aware of the plan and their responsibilities so that should a disaster strike, there is no confusion as to who is suppose to do what. Not only should you identify and document the responsible parties, this document should be reviewed frequently to avoid employee turnover from creating holes in your disaster recovery plan.

  5. Simulate identified failures and test your plan
    Once you have identified possible disaster scenarios, test them. Be thorough and systematic about your testing. Your testing should verify that you can recover your backups on all critical systems, applications and databases. You need to make sure that no server or important data set is left behind. You should also look at what you would do if your local copy of your backup is destroyed or what happens if your backup is in the cloud and the Internet goes down. How long can your business survive without their data. Testing the entire recovery process should verify that your data can be located, recovered and readable in any of your identified disaster scenarios. If there are any problems encountered during file restoration, this is the time to make some changes and fine-tune the areas identified so that should disaster strike, you have already worked out the kinks in your plan.

Having a plan and testing it will help you to avoid as much down time as possible. Your team should be prepared and know what to do to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible. Any flaws in your plan that can be identified during testing will help to minimize the financial impact to your company in the long-run.

Still not convinced that data recovery planning is crucial? Check out our articles on Why Data Recovery Assistance May Be Critical and Why You Need a Data Breach Recovery Plan.