Part 1 It’s clear why testing is important, but how to actually test your disaster…
Can you successfully recover and access your data after a disaster? Testing your disaster recovery plan is the only way you can know for sure.
I Already Have a Recovery Plan – So Why Test It?
Think of the performance of your disaster recovery plan like an orchestra that’s performing at a concert. Disaster recovery testing is the rehearsal. In order for things to go smoothly for the show, you need to be sure everyone will perform in harmony, without missing a beat. This also shows you where any weaknesses are; for instance, finding out on the day of the show that the second violinists are offbeat will ruin the whole thing.
The same is true of disaster recovery testing. Without testing, performance during a real disaster can easily go wrong.
Disaster recovery testing shows you your weak points, or places where your data is vulnerable to loss or corruption. Finding flaws during testing is incredibly common, and is actually a good thing – these are flaws that otherwise would have caused problems when your data is really at risk. Once your test is complete, your disaster recovery provider will take the necessary steps to improve your plan and ensure that everything runs smoothly when a real disaster occurs.
The Points to Assess
Simply having a data protection plan is not enough. You must verify that your system is really being backed up, and that these backups can actually be recovered when you need them. Restoring your critical data is just as important as backing it up; merely having secure data doesn’t mean that you can actually access it (in which case, the backup is essentially useless).
Some critical points to account for include:
- How long does restoration take?
- How reliable is your restoration?
- Were critical applications protected?
- Can you restore the latest database backup?
- How do you accommodate legacy formats (if applicable)?
- Do applications need to be restored in any particular order?
- Did you protect applications that other processes depend on?
- Do you have an established network connecting you to your DR provider?
My Plan Was Tested, and Ran Perfectly on Day 1 – Why Test Now?
Even if your system was perfect on day 1, that doesn’t mean it’s been perfect since day 1. IT environments are constantly changing, and all of these changes affect your DR plan. Data loads grow, and companies acquire and let go of servers, personnel, and clients. That’s not to mention changing software, programs, or general business processes.
The only way to make sure that your changing IT environment is accounted for is by testing your plan. Imagine how devastating it would be to feel confident in the face of a disaster, only to discover that you lost all data from servers or applications that were added or modified. This is why DR providers typically recommend annual testing, at the very least.
Testing (and retesting) your system validates:
- Virtualized servers
- Changes in applications
- New or modified servers
- Alterations in software or hardware
- New or removed clients and personnel
- Your Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective (RPO and RTO)
Disaster recovery testing is so important, we treat it as an integrated feature of our disaster recovery (DR) solutions. Our testing process is unobtrusive, and does not interrupt your business processes. We validate your backup strategy, ensure your data security, and document results to fulfill auditor requirements and compliance.
To learn more about disaster recovery testing for your unique IT environment, contact us today at 317-707-3941.