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Disaster Recovery: Practice = Protection

How prepared can you be for a data disaster? Clearly the answer is never enough -- no matter how prepared you are, the recovery will undoubtedly reveal aspects of your preparation that can be improved upon. So why not start scouting out those improvable aspects before disaster strikes? Why not practice for problems and rehearse your recovery? Doing so now might eliminate post-disaster disasters later.
How prepared can you be for a data disaster? Clearly the answer is never enough -- no matter how prepared you are, the recovery will undoubtedly reveal aspects of your preparation that can be improved upon. So why not start scouting out those improvable aspects before disaster strikes? Why not practice for problems and rehearse your recovery? Doing so now might eliminate post-disaster disasters later.Disaster recovery (DR) practice is one of the items that most struck me in a list of DR tips put together by John Magee, a Symantec vice president.

His tips were solid, if general -- and worthwhile whether or not your business uses Symantec products -- and included the usual suspects: regular backups (with the reminder to test that the backup was successful), locking the door to the data/server room and so on.

But his combination of a) documenting the steps involved in a recovery from disaster and, just as crucial, rehearsing all employees in their roles in such a recovery hit two points that many small and medium size business might overlook.

On the documentation front Magee argues for both a thorough written plan/inventory that includes not only locations of all critical disks, tapes and data stores but also all system passwords (suitably secured of course.)

The critical point Magee makes here is that the documentation and passwords should be stored in two locations, one of them off-site. If your facility should go up in smoke, your DR plans and documentations shouldn't.

Once the documentation is in place, put your team through DR paces at least once a quarter, Magee's point being that frequency not only improves proficiency but also makes any new hires familiar with the procedure while spotlighting any issues introduced by new hardware or software added during the previous quarter.

In other words, DR practice isn't only a rehearsal for the unthinkable, it's a test of the systems you have (or don't have) in place.

Good advice -- and evidently necessary advice, as shown in a Symantec DR planning effectiveness report from last year. A test every compnay should take regularly.

Hre's bMighty's own take on disaster planning and recovery for small and midsize businesses.