Testing your disaster recovery plans is an effective way to ensure your company is ready for a real disaster. It also helps minimize the amount of time it takes to recover from a real disaster, which can benefit a company financially. There are multiple ways of testing your plan:
- Read-through/tabletop. The disaster recovery teams (for example, server, network, security, database, email, etc.) gather and the disaster recovery plan is read. Each team validates that their technologies are present and the timing is appropriate to ensure that everything can be recovered. If not, changes are made. A read-through can often help identify ordering issues (for example, trying to recover email before recovering DNS) or other high-level issues. In a read-through exercise, teams do not perform any recovery operations.
- Walkthrough. A walkthrough is a more detailed read-through — the same teams look at the details of the recovery operations to look for errors, omissions or other problems.
- Simulation. A simulation is a simulated disaster in which teams must go through their documented recovery operations. Simulations are very helpful to validate the detailed recovery plans and help the teams gain experience performing recovery operations.
- Parallel. In a parallel recovery effort, teams perform recovery operations on a separate network, sometimes in a separate facility. Some organizations use third-party providers that provide recovery data centers to perform parallel recovery tests. Companies sometimes use a parallel recovery method to minimize disruption to their internal networks and minimize the need to maintain the IT infrastructure necessary to support recovery efforts.
- Full interruption. In a full interruption recovery, the organizations halt regular operations on a separate network, sometimes in a separate facility. Many times, a full interruption operation involves failing over from the primary data center to the secondary data center. This type of recovery testing is the most expensive, takes the most time, and exposes the company to the most risk of something going wrong. While those drawbacks are serious, full interruption tests are a good practice for most organizations.
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