When Should You Run A Disaster Recovery Test And How Often

When Should You Run A Disaster Recovery Test And How Often

As a business owner or someone in charge or running one, you likely already have an effective disaster recovery plan in place, and it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

Your team leader is familiar with every step of the plan, along with the recovery team. Priority systems are identified, and timeframes are noted. It seems like everything is in place, and you are ready to meet almost any type of disaster that may come your way.

However, even the best disaster recovery plans need testing—so what should you know about disaster recovery testing frequencies and their implications? To start, every organization is different, so the answer will vary based on your needs and circumstances.

Here’s a general guideline on how often you should run a disaster recovery test and when is the best time to avoid interrupting daily operations.

How Often Should You Run A Disaster Recovery Test

A good rule to follow is to schedule a disaster recovery test at least once a year. During the test, assess the steps involved in the recovery process and evaluate their efficiency. You may also want to take the time to reorganize some of the steps.

Some processes may be obsolete, while others may be in an awkward order. Be open to feedback from your recovery team. These are the personnel carrying out the recovery steps. If they feel improvements are necessary or make recommendations, it’s a good idea to give them plenty of consideration. Your ideas may not fit into the reality of the recovery process.

You May Need to Increase Your Testing Frequency

Even though the general recommendation is running a disaster recovery test every 12 months, mitigating factors can increase the frequency.

The organization’s size is a factor, where larger companies will often perform a test more frequently than a small business, often due to personnel changes. Large companies tend to have a higher turnover rate. If your team leader resigns, you may want to run a test to help familiarize the replacement with the recovery process.

Some applications may require more frequent testing than others. For example, a complex data network. Don’t forget to run a disaster recovery test every time you make changes to the company’s infrastructure, which includes any changes to your data storage, retrieval, and backup processes. Larger businesses may find themselves running multiple disaster recovery tests a year.

When Is It A Good Time To Run A Recovery Test?

The best time to run a disaster recovery test is when the business is shut down, which typically means in the evening or over the weekend.

For businesses keeping a traditional 9 to 5 work week, scheduling some overtime for essential personnel is more feasible than interrupting daily operations. Unfortunately, a majority of companies have non-traditional schedules.

When you are unable to schedule a recovery test after business hours, the next best scenario is to take advantage of a slow time. Running the test can temporarily pause some critical systems, so you want to aim for a non-busy time.

Another option is to stagger the tests. For example, run a test on the data system one day. The following day, you can perform a disaster recovery test on a different system. This method helps to minimize any interruptions to your employees, customers, and business.

Which Type Of Test Should You Use

There are four types of disaster recovery tests, and you may need to run each one depending on your organization’s scope and needs. Each test covers a different part of your business, including your systems, hardware, and software.

Start with a Walkthrough Recovery Test

A walkthrough test doesn’t interrupt the systems. Instead, it’s a careful review of the current recovery plan. The purpose of the walkthrough is to ensure everyone is familiar with each step of the process, which is also the time to review any changes you may have made to the business’s operating systems.

Tabletop Test

During a tabletop test scenario, heads of the various departments discuss ‘what if’ scenarios and the best practices to get the systems back up and running. The primary goal of this test is to identify any potential gaps that may exist in the disaster recovery plan.

Technical Test

Running a technical test also doesn’t disrupt system operations; it only assesses the backup and restore systems. To save on testing costs, you can run the test on a virtual machine using the cloud; this way, you don’t need to use a dedicated server.

Live Test

A live test will temporarily interrupt business operations, but it’s also necessary to assess the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan. Therefore, try to schedule this part of the testing during a slower part of the day to minimize disruption.

Keep Running Your Disaster Recovery Tests

Running a disaster recovery test is something that every business should do—but when and how often really depends on your company. These tests are a great way to make sure that your organization is properly prepared for anything that may come your way.

Ensuring your plan is ready for any disaster is the best way to ensure your business can quickly recover.