The Importance of Regular Disaster Recovery Testing

By Marina Gregory, Chief Operating Officer - 25 Jun, 2018
Physical Security
5 Minutes Read
Did you know that 58 percent of small businesses are not prepared for a data loss? Or, that 93 percent of companies that lost their data for ten days or more during a disaster have filed for bankruptcy within one year? It is obvious that a proper disaster recovery plan should be maintained for any size business and that regular disaster recovery testing should take place. The preparation can make or break the future of your business.

That’s right, simply having a plan in place is not enough. Regular disaster recovery testing is key to make sure everything will work correctly in case its needed. You probably have performed fire drills, why should disaster recovery be any different? How will you know if your recovery strategy will work if you don’t test it? Let’s take a look at how to get started with testing in your business.

The Importance of Disaster Recovery Testing

There are many reasons why your business should implement a recovery testing strategy. Oftentimes, data recovery systems have flaws that are not yet visible until after the damage is done. The problem? As you can see from the stats above, sometimes there isn’t any coming back from disaster.

Testing your disaster recovery plan helps pinpoints security holes before they make a difference. Testing will also help you gauge how a system reacts to infrastructure changes, providing insight into the health of your recovery plan. Having a plan in place will ensure you are able to adapt to changing infrastructure faster and more efficiently than before.

Your business processes and infrastructure change periodically. Your employees change, and you add departments. Changes should be implemented and communicated in your testing strategy to ensure everyone is on the same page. Periodic testing allows changes to be made based on successes and failures, so preparedness is high. It is critical to test to ensure each moving part is working as it should.

Testing Best Practices

In order to get the most out of your testing and be on your way to a foolproof data recovery plan, there are several best practices you should follow. From preparing for your testing to carrying out the test, let’s discuss what you need to know to be successful.


Preparation is key to successful disaster recovery testing. You will want to prepare to ensure you will receive the best results each time. Create a test plan that outlines your entire data recovery strategy. Who will do what? What will happen if this doesn’t happen? Use the testing time to make changes to your plan as you move along.

It is also important to remember that during a disaster, one person should not be held accountable for any action. You should start testing by allowing two people per procedure to make sure there is always a backup. If disaster strikes while one employee is out of the office, there is another one who understands what to do.

You should also consider how you will retain the data you collect and how to report it. If changes must be made, you will want to document this information for your staff and your business. Use the talent you have to have extra hands on deck to take notes and record any unexpected results.

Once you have a team in place and a test plan, you are ready to get started.

Testing Your DR Plan

Although a full-scale disaster recovery test takes a lot of resources, there are various other methods of testing your data recovery plan. Some of these methods include:

  • Tabletop testing. Using this method, all members of your team come together to talk about the steps you would take during a disaster. Each step is spoken about in detail, discussing exactly what would be done in each scenario. If there are any training gaps or knowledge gaps within your team, this is the perfect way to identify them. This is also a great way to answer questions and refresh your team on current procedures.
  • Plan review. In this method, the DR plan is reviewed and updated based on your current state of business. Each change that is made can then be passed on through a tabletop test to ensure that each step will work. This is best used when a company already has a plan in place and understands it well.

If these do not pinpoint exactly what is causing your disaster recovery plan to falter, you can carry out a full-scale test in the form of a disaster drill. All team members will come together and simulate their responses to see what works and what doesn’t.

Once your testing is complete, carefully review all issues or snags to find where the problem lies. If a problem can be identified, fix it. If not, it is back to DR testing until you get it right. For more information about disaster recovery testing or assistance, reach out to New Era Technology today.

Author: Marina Gregory, Chief Operating Officer

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