Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Bad news seems constant, so it’s no surprise that crises feel inevitable. While hoping for the best is important, we should also prepare for the worst. Here’s why creating a disaster recovery plan is essential.

A well-crafted disaster recovery plan plays a pivotal role in justifying the impact of natural disasters on business operations, regulatory compliance, and data integrity. Moreover, it serves as a lifeline in expediting recovery from cyber threats, as evidenced by recent breaches at prominent organizations like Infosys and Boeing.

If your organization’s disaster recovery plan is outdated, inadequate, or non-existent, recent events should serve as a wake-up call to reconsider, update, or establish a recovery strategy without delay.

So, what precisely is a disaster recovery plan, and what elements should it encompass?

Here are eight crucial steps to formulate a disaster recovery plan that not only safeguards against data loss but also fosters business continuity and ensures adherence to sensitive data protocols and service level agreements (SLAs).

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

8 Steps to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan

Establishing a Disaster Response Team and Defining Responsibilities

Establishing a Disaster Response Team is crucial for effectively managing crises and coordinating recovery efforts while ensuring clear communication with employees, customers, and stakeholders.

The team’s responsibilities should be well-documented, assigning specific tasks to each member to ensure smooth operations during emergencies. It’s also essential to have backup personnel designated for key roles in case the primary leads are unavailable.

Establishing Clear Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs)

Two critical elements of any robust disaster recovery plan are setting clear Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs).

RTO refers to the maximum acceptable downtime for an application before it starts impacting your business operations. This duration varies based on the application’s criticality:

  • RTO near zero: For mission-critical applications that require immediate failover capabilities.
  • RTO of four hours: Applicable to less critical systems where there’s time for on-site recovery from bare-metal backups.
  • RTO of eight or more hours: Suitable for nonessential applications that can remain offline for extended periods without significant repercussions.

On the other hand, RPO defines the maximum data loss tolerable before it adversely affects your business. This aspect influences how frequently data backups need to be performed:

  • RPO near zero: Utilize continuous replication for mission-critical data, ensuring minimal to no data loss and seamless business continuity.
  • RPO of four hours: Opt for scheduled snapshot replication to minimize data loss.
  • RPO of 8-24 hours: Use existing backup solutions for data that can be reconstructed from alternate sources.

The decision regarding RTOs and RPOs also considers cost implications, as more frequent and real-time replication or backup solutions typically incur higher expenses. By aligning RTOs and RPOs with your business needs and available resources, you can create an effective disaster recovery strategy that minimizes downtime and data loss while balancing cost-effectiveness.

Designing a Network Infrastructure Blueprint

A comprehensive blueprint of your network infrastructure is crucial for efficient system recovery, particularly in the event of a cyberattack or network corruption. It’s essential to categorize different system components based on their importance to business continuity, indicating their priority as mission-critical, essential, or nonessential. This prioritization ensures that services are restored in the appropriate order during recovery efforts. Additionally, including system dependencies in the blueprint is vital, as they can influence the prioritization and sequence of recovery tasks.

Designing a Network Infrastructure Blueprint

Key elements to include in your network infrastructure blueprint:

  1. Network Topology:
    • Diagram illustrating the layout of your network, including routers, switches, firewalls, and access points.
    • Indicate network segments, VLANs, and interconnections between devices.
  2. Servers and Services:
    • List of servers hosting mission-critical, essential, and nonessential services.
    • Identify critical applications, databases, email servers, domain controllers, and file servers.
  3. Data Storage:
    • Outline storage solutions such as SAN (Storage Area Network) or NAS (Network Attached Storage).
    • Specify storage volumes, RAID configurations, and backup repositories.
  4. Connectivity:
    • Document internet connections, WAN (Wide Area Network) links, and VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections.
    • Include details of ISP (Internet Service Provider), bandwidth capacities, and failover mechanisms.
  5. Security Measures:
    • Describe firewall rules, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and antivirus solutions.
    • Note security policies, access controls, and encryption protocols in use.
  6. System Dependencies:
    • Identify dependencies between servers, services, and applications.
    • Highlight dependencies on external systems or third-party services.
  7. Disaster Recovery Plan:
    • Summarize the disaster recovery plan, including backup schedules, recovery procedures, and testing protocols.
    • Specify roles and responsibilities of personnel involved in disaster recovery efforts.
  8. Documentation and Contacts:
    • Provide links or references to detailed documentation for individual components.
    • Include contact information for key personnel, vendors, and support providers.

Maintaining an up-to-date and well-organized network infrastructure blueprint is essential for effective disaster recovery planning and ensuring business continuity in the face of unforeseen events or cyber incidents.

Choosing an Effective Disaster Recovery Solution

When selecting a disaster recovery solution, consider factors such as storage capacity, recovery timeline, and configuration complexity, as they directly impact costs. Often, the choice is between quick recovery times with potential data loss versus maintaining system availability with high complexity and costs.

Opt for a solution like Concertium that offers affordable protection against data loss for your systems and applications. Concertium simplifies management of backup and disaster recovery through its Concertium Cloud Console, a unified web-based interface. This minimizes complexity and enables easy restoration of service-level agreements, enhancing overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Creating a Checklist for Activating the Disaster Response Plan

An effective business continuity plan hinges on identifying the specific criteria that warrant the activation of your disaster response plan. This ensures that your recovery team can initiate the appropriate response without expending resources unnecessarily or reacting disproportionately to minor incidents. Key considerations include:

Creating a Checklist for Activating the Disaster Response Plan

  1. Type of Disaster:
    • Determine what types of events qualify as disasters, such as cyberattacks, major system failures, or prolonged power outages.
  2. Severity of Impact:
    • Assess the severity of the incident’s impact on critical business operations, infrastructure, data centers, or services.
    • Evaluate the potential financial, operational, or reputational risks associated with the event.
  3. Extent of Data Loss or Damage:
    • Consider the extent of data loss or damage to essential systems, applications, and databases.
    • Evaluate if the incident compromises data protection measures or backup and recovery capabilities.
  4. Availability of Resources:
    • Determine if there are adequate resources, including personnel, equipment, and infrastructure, to manage the recovery process effectively.
    • Assess the availability of alternative workspaces or backup facilities if primary locations are compromised.
  5. Impact on Customers and Stakeholders:
    • Consider the impact on customers, stakeholders, and partners, including disruptions to services, communications, or contractual obligations.
    • Evaluate potential legal or regulatory implications and the need for transparent communication.
  6. Activation Thresholds:
    • Define clear activation thresholds or triggers based on predefined metrics, such as downtime duration, system unavailability, or critical functionality loss.
    • Establish escalation procedures and communication protocols for notifying the disaster recovery team and relevant stakeholders.
  7. Testing and Validation:
    • Regularly test and validate the effectiveness of the disaster response plan through simulations, tabletop exercises, or drills.
    • Review and update the checklist periodically to reflect changes in technology, infrastructure, or business priorities.

By aligning these criteria with your business continuity plan, you can ensure a swift and efficient response to disasters while mitigating risks and minimizing disruptions to critical operations.

Documenting the Disaster Recovery Process

It’s crucial to have clear, step-by-step instructions in plain language for your team to follow during the disaster recovery process. This ensures that data and operations can be restored promptly once it’s safe to do so. Additionally, storing a copy of the disaster recovery plan away from the network or in immutable storage helps protect it from corruption during a ransomware attack or physical loss from a natural disaster.

Testing Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Regular testing of your disaster recovery plan is essential to ensure its effectiveness when needed. Implement a testing schedule that includes running a partial recovery test twice a year and conducting a full recovery simulation annually.

Additionally, consider incorporating surprise drills into your testing regimen. These surprise drills help assess how well the processes will function in a real emergency scenario and provide valuable insights into areas that may need improvement.

Regular Review and Updating of Your Disaster Recovery Plan

It’s crucial to review and update your disaster recovery plan regularly to ensure its relevance and effectiveness. Aim to conduct thorough reviews at least annually, or more frequently if significant changes occur in your organization, technology, or operations.

During these reviews, assess the plan’s alignment with current risks, technologies, and business priorities. Update procedures, contact information, recovery strategies, and documentation as needed. Engage key stakeholders and the disaster recovery team in the review process to incorporate valuable insights and enhance the plan’s resilience against evolving threats and challenges.


In conclusion, maintaining an up-to-date and comprehensive disaster recovery plan is paramount for businesses to effectively respond to unforeseen emergencies and ensure continuity of operations. By regularly reviewing and updating the plan, organizations can address evolving risks, technological advancements, and business requirements.

Engaging stakeholders and the disaster recovery team in this process fosters collaboration, enhances preparedness, and strengthens resilience against potential disruptions.

Ultimately, a well-maintained disaster recovery plan not only minimizes downtime and data loss but also instills confidence in stakeholders, customers, and employees that the organization is well-prepared to navigate and recover from any disaster scenario.