Server Disaster Recovery Plan: What to Include For Speedy Recovery

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No matter how optimally configured your web hosting servers may be, there is always the risk of them being damaged in a disaster.

Disasters are inevitable and they can lead to having dissatisfied customers, financial losses, and a tainted reputation for your business.

Fortunately, there are certain steps that can be taken to ensure continuity in the face of a disaster.

A thorough disaster server disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a surefire guideline to get your server back up and running as soon as possible.

So, what exactly is a disaster recovery plan? Let’s take an in-depth look.

What’s An Effective Disaster Server Recovery Plan?

A server disaster recovery plan is used to mitigate the effects of a disaster affecting your hosting servers in order to recover from the disaster quickly and efficiently.

Some of the most common server failures are caused by DDoS attacks, natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, fires, floods, and so on), power shortages, human errors, etc.

To prepare a solid data recovery plan, you should:

  1. Plan for different types of disasters
  2. Define your goals
  3. Define RTO and RPO
  4. Assign personnel roles
  5. List applications and inventory
  6. Identify sensitive documents and data
  7. Make offshore backups
  8. Map out disaster recovery sites
  9. Create a disaster response procedure
  10. Formulate a communication plan
  11. Test the plan
  12. Routinely update the plan

What is a Server Disaster Recovery Plan?

A server disaster recovery plan is a written guideline that contains comprehensive instructions on how to mitigate unforeseeable incidents such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or human errors.

The strategies in a disaster recovery plan are designed to minimize the negative effects of a disaster and get your website or web application operating post-disaster with as little downtime as possible.

You cannot know when a disaster will strike, but you can have a detailed plan for when one happens. This is the disaster recovery plan.

The more thorough the plan, the more prepared you will be in the event of a disaster.

When is a Server Disaster Recovery Plan Useful to Have?

The disasters covered in a disaster recovery plan do not always have to be cataclysmic events that render your entire server inoperable. In fact, the disasters covered in the plan can be anything that causes damage or interruptions.

The more damaging situations that a plan covers, the better the plan. This will ensure that no matter how large or small a disaster, you are prepared.

We have mapped out some of the most common disasters you may encounter:

  • DDoS attacks
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes
  • Power shortages
  • Hardware malfunctions
  • Leaking cooling pipes
  • Network failures, etc.

By having a detailed list of possible disasters, you can prepare for any of them. The more detailed the list, the more efficient your DRP will be.

What Should a Server Disaster Recovery Plan Include?

A DRP is all about preparedness. The more thorough your plan, the faster you will recover from a disaster.

The elements of an efficient DRP are clearly defined RTOs (recovery time objective) and RPOs (recovery point objective), IT asset inventories, personnel roles, identification of sensitive documents and data, and disaster recovery drills.

You will also want to have clear goals, an analysis of possible disasters, offshore backups, response procedures, and a communication plan.

12 Step Server Disaster Recovery Plan [Example Template]

Let’s take a closer look at an example of a 12 step server disaster recovery plan.

Step #1. Plan for Different Types of Disasters

Different disasters require different measures. Depending on the type of your business, where you are operating, and the location of your servers, you might face fire, floods, tornadoes, etc.

As there isn’t one recovery plan for all types of disasters, you need to know what you might potentially have to deal with. So, the first thing you need to do when coming up with a disaster recovery plan is to make a detailed list of possible disasters that may affect you.

Step #2. Define Your Goals

Once you know what you might have to face in the future and which type of disaster you’re creating a recovery plan for, you need to define your goals. Ask yourself and your co-workers what you want to accomplish during the recovery process, whether your plans are achievable, whether they’re cost efficient, etc.

Having a clearly defined set of goals will help you keep your focus in the long run, as you’ll always know what you set out to achieve with the disaster recovery plan.

Step #3. Define RTO and RPO

Another essential step in preparing a disaster recovery plan is defining a recovery time objective (RTO) and a recovery point objective (RPO). These two objectives should act as goals your organization needs to reach during the process.

The RTO assesses the amount of time you will need to recover your site. On the other hand, the RPO determines the volume of data that could potentially be lost without a backup and how frequently data needs to be backed up.

You should also consider establishing a formal service level agreement (SLA) that guarantees that the defined RPO and RTO will be met. The SLA agreement also guarantees you’ll have enough time to work through the recovery process.

Step #4. Assign Personnel Roles

To ensure your disaster recovery plan will succeed, you need to organize your team properly. To do so, you must decide who will be a part of the recovery team and assign personnel roles.

This step of the process ensures that if and when disaster strikes, each member of your team will know what’s expected of them and will be ready to act.

Step #5. List Applications and Inventory

No matter how foolproof a recovery plan might be, you can’t save everything in the event of a disaster. Sometimes there just isn’t much you can do to save certain items.

That’s why you should create a detailed list of the assets that need to be recovered first, and which ones can wait. When preparing the inventory, you should keep in mind the following aspects:

  • Monetary value of the items
  • Purpose of the items in your company
  • Replaceability of the items in your company.

Step #6. Identify Sensitive Documents and Data

Knowing what aspects of your business cannot be lost without disastrous effects will ensure that even if disaster strikes, you will save the crucial documents and data. That’s why you need to identify all the sensitive documents, such as:

  • Invoices
  • Confidentiality agreements
  • Contractor agreements
  • Employment agreements
  • Company bylaws
  • Business registration

Step #7. Make Offshore Backups

Once you have a list of the most sensitive documents your company can’t exist without, you should consider saving them in an offsite backup solution (e.g., cloud storage). This will ensure that even in the event of an emergency, you still have access to your important data at all times.

Step #8. Map Out Disaster Recovery Sites

Some companies even go as far as having backup offices if they are at risk of losing an entire work site because of a disaster. Although this step isn’t necessary, you should consider where your staff will work in case the current office cannot be reopened in a timely manner.

If you can’t decide whether you should get a recovery site for your company, you should ask yourself:

If the primary office is destroyed, what is the plan for relocating the company?

Does the company have access to other sites that could be used for dislocated items in case of a disaster?

Does the technology in place allow people to work remotely?

Your answers to these questions should help you decide whether you need a recovery site.

Step #9. Create a Disaster Response Procedure

Having an easy-to-understand disaster response procedure ensures that everyone in your team knows what to do and can maintain continuity. There’s no ambiguity in cases like this, which is why everyone should have a list of specific steps they need to take to complete their tasks.

For example, if your technicians know the exact steps they must perform to move the workload, it will reduce the stress involved in the recovery and will diminish the chances of mistakes happening.

Step #10. Formulate a Communication Plan

Formulating a communication plan is one of the most overlooked, but also one of the most important steps in server disaster recovery plans. A solid communication plan needs to specify:

The communication devices your recovery teams will use

How your employees will communicate if email and phones are unavailable

Who should your teams contact in case of an emergency

Who will contact stakeholders throughout the execution of the disaster recovery plan

Step #11. Test the Plan

To make sure everything is in order and that your employees will be as effective as possible in case disaster strikes, you need to test your plan and run continuous drills to train your employees. Continual testing is the best way to make sure your recovery plan keeps up with the changes in your organization and is also the best way to perfect the plan.

Step #12. Routinely Update the Plan

Lastly, you should ensure that your disaster recovery plan is updated at least twice a year. You need to make new threat evaluations and reevaluate your plan to make sure you’re prepared for all possible emergencies.

Besides keeping in mind that your disaster recovery plan is likely to be outdated after a while, you should also create a timeline of how often it will be updated and by whom. This will ensure it is always up to date and ready for any scenario.

The 3 Types of Server Disaster Recovery Plans

There are 3 main types of server disaster recovery plans. Which one you utilize depends on your business’s needs and hosting methods.

Let’s take a look.

#1. Data Center DRP

This plan focuses on the entire building where your servers are located. It takes into account everything from HVAC and utilities, to fire prevention and backup power sources.

All of these aspects work together to keep your data safe in the case of a disaster and must be taken into account. Data DRP significantly reduces the risks of cyber-attacks and intruders, but your server is still susceptible to natural disasters.

#2. Network DRP

A network server disaster recovery plan is a set of guidelines that come into effect in the case of network performance degradation or a total network outage.

The main objective of a network DRP is to get the network operating again as soon as possible. Typical elements of this type of DRP include data backups, network weaknesses, threat analysis, and network recovery procedures. Network DRP is a specialized implementation of your standard disaster server recovery plan.

The causes of a network disaster range from faulty configuration to bandwidth over-usage. Usually, these disasters are caused by human error.

#3. Cloud DRP

A cloud server disaster recovery plan is a cost-effective method for storing critical IT assets in a virtual environment.

Since the data stored in the cloud is independent of a physical server, this is one of the best forms of protection against severe natural disasters.

The first step of a cloud DRP is to back up data from your physical servers so that you can recover the data when a disaster strikes. The more cloud environments you have, the higher your chances are of getting your site back up and running after a disaster.

However, with more cloud environments you will have to spend more time managing all of them.

If you’re in the process of creating a disaster recovery plan, you might be thinking of moving your data to the cloud. RedSwitches offers the ultimate bare metal servers, managed servers, infrastructure hosting, and many more specialized hosting solutions!

Our top-of-the-line servers will provide you with lightning speeds, and we will take care of regular backups, virus scanning, load balancing, and many other things so you don’t have to! Our regular system backups will ensure your data stays safe at all times, even if disaster strikes. This is an important aspect of any disaster server recovery plan.

Conclusion

Coming up with a server disaster recovery plan sounds like a lot, right? Well, that is the truth. Being prepared for a disaster can take time and making a detailed DRP is no walk in the park.

That’s why a fully managed dedicated server can be one of the best investments you ever make.

With a fully managed dedicated server hosting plan, your hosting provider will ensure your server is up and running at all times. They guarantee a high level of uptime for your server and deal with any issues that come up.

Get in touch today to explore our managed hosting services and get a fully managed dedicated server suitable for your business.

Server Disaster Recovery Plan FAQ

#1. What is meant by disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery is a method of regaining access and functionality of an IT company’s infrastructure after a disaster (e.g., natural disaster, cyber attacks, etc.).

#2. Why Do You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery plan allows you to recover lost data and continue operating even after a system failure or a disaster. The plan will provide your employees with instructions on how to act during an emergency and recover lost information.

#3. What are the most common types of disasters?

The most common types of disasters you can encounter are:

  • Power shortages
  • Natural disasters
  • DDoS attacks
  • Hardware malfunctions
  • Network failures

#4. Who is responsible for server disaster recovery planning?

Your IT team is responsible for creating your organization’s server disaster recovery plan, updating it, testing it, and implementing it in times of crisis.