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Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan for Data & Backups

written by: Eli Misel•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/13/2009

People are becoming abjectly dependent on computers and therefore an effective data recovery plan is critically necessary so that valuable stored information is not lost due to any natural or man-made disaster.

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    No Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) for data recovery would be purposeful unless it is preceded by some meaningful planning. To start with one has to conduct an inventory of all data utility systems incorporated into the network. The process here begins with identification of the systems that contain critical information, files and folders and sensitive data within the set proximity of a well-defined data structure system. This is not to overlook the e-mail system which will contain valuable messages received from key persons. It is necessary to have all the important databases and applications listed in a spreadsheet along with details like what computers the files are located on and their format.

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    When does a disaster take place?

    No one will ever know when a disaster will strike. Disaster is an uninvited guest and can strike anywhere. One can surely predict it but no one can be spontaneously ready to announce it. For instance a storm or unregulated electric surge can destroy the entire master drive and backup drive and in a moment’s time articles and other data sedulously built over the years can be irretrievably lost. It is a sad fact that disaster recovery is something that is generally thought of only after some catastrophic event takes place.

    Analyze all things that can damage data, from simple man-made threats like virus attacks and accidental data deletions to more rare natural threats like floods and fires. List out which of the threats are more likely to occur and rank each threat for probability and impact.

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    Preserving data through a Disaster Recovery Plan

    The one suggestion to protect and preserve valuable information and data is an external storage device in the form of external drives. External drives are available in different sizes. It is necessary to know the quantum of data one wishes to back up or if the user want to back everything up, then the external drive must be equal to the internal space. Once the external storage device is in place, the user can avail built-in software offered with Windows XP or any other third-party software solution.

    Though data disaster recovery plans are put in place, copies of crucial data have also to be stored off-site. This helps in saving copies of very critical data even if the whole work place is destroyed. For storing data off site one needs a secure back up offsite which is a storage location for all the vital data and business-IT-centric data system.

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    Incorporation of a DRP Centralized System

    Analysts believe that a full fledged and effective DRP should integrate a 24/7 tenable data-system-environment. This includes a centralized data recovery management with real time data analysis and integration of all sources of IT related business recovery plan. And, to be true, this is a data set up plan which needs testing at frequent intervals. Test regularly the system that is going to be used in recovery to ensure that all the components function properly. More often than not, once a DRP is in place, people concerned tend to forget about it.

    The DRP needs to be constantly updated and refined to be of any constructive use during crises. It is good to know that a workable and up-to-date disaster recovery plan is critical to preserve large amounts of critical data. To imagine that the mere existence of a disaster recovery plan is enough can prove to be a costly mistake in the event of a disaster. Even a seemingly successful disaster recovery may not be able to completely recover the data as it was before the disaster struck, unless the disaster recovery plan had been reviewed frequently to incorporate necessary changes.