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6 benefits that make a disaster recovery plan worth it

Disaster recovery plans help reduce recovery time, ultimately saving time and money. Time spent testing and planning upfront pays dividends when a disaster strikes.

Disaster recovery planning requires organizations to invest time, money and personnel. It often involves testing, trainings and exercises, not to mention hardware and software investments for offsite, on-premises and cloud recovery options.

However, the costs are far outweighed by the benefits of a DR plan. Businesses without good backups and tested DR plans are more likely to go out of business due to data loss, reputational damage and the other risks they take by not having a DR plan in place. Organizations with a DR plan can reap strong benefits, such as meeting legal requirements and having a better understanding of the resources they need.

Below are six benefits of a disaster recovery plan.

1. It reduces the panic of dealing with an unexpected crisis

One of the best things about having a disaster recovery plan ready to go is that most scenarios that could make a disaster worse have already been thought about, and mitigations and plans have been documented, tested and validated by the DR team. It provides a tested roadmap for the worst day imaginable. It can also highlight current risks that have not been thought about before.

Doing so reduces the risk of panic and improvisation that could potentially make the situation worse. As the name suggests, a plan gives an outline of what needs to happen, when and by whom. A good DR plan also includes exercises to test it, leading to snags being ironed out ahead of time.

As with most things, the more practice, the better the outcome.

2. The right people are involved at the right time

Another benefit of a disaster recovery plan is that those key individuals that are needed in a disaster know about it ahead of time. It also cuts through the chatter and gets the right people at the right time to the right place. When people know they are to be called upon in a DR plan, it enables them to manage that much better.

3. It manages expectations and brings in necessary parties

If a company is experiencing a crisis that requires it to invoke the DR plan, knowing who needs to be notified and how to contact them means that those people who can positively affect the situation are aware and well-rehearsed mitigations can be put in place. It also can inform stakeholders and customers of the disruption and manage their expectations. The last thing a company needs in a disaster is the distraction of third parties trying to conduct business as usual on systems that are down.

4. It helps meet legal and PR requirements

One thing a lot of administrators don't immediately think about is that some scenarios can have reporting and other legal requirements. Documenting these in the DR plan provides a degree of clarity.

This can also extend to PR teams and having preagreed communications to help protect the company's reputation. This can be a major concern for many organizations, especially high-profile businesses or those in regulated industries.

5. Investing in DR is good for data backup

Businesses that invest in a DR plan tend to be those that have quality, tested backups. Without backups, the best DR plan is worthless. This is an absolute requirement for successful recovery.

6. It provides a better understanding of required resources

Implementing disaster recovery plans can be expensive. That said, if an appropriate disaster recovery plan exists, it becomes straightforward to quantify the spending involved. DR plans outline internal and third-party resources the business will use in a crisis. Having these resources laid out in an official DR plan can ease future communications with third-party services and provide an understanding of the potential expenses that will be required.

Stuart Burns is a virtualization expert at a Fortune 500 company. He specializes in VMware and system integration with additional expertise in disaster recovery and systems management. Burns received vExpert status in 2015.

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