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Data Center Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Updated on April 2, 2022
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Although businesses curate their disaster recovery (DR) plans with the hope of never actually having to use them, disasters will generally be abrupt, forceful, and cause large-scale damage. Uptime Institute’s 2021 Global Data Center Survey (via Facility Executive) shows that outages, while less prevalent than in previous years, have become way more costly. Over 60% of the respondents reported losing more than $100,000 to downtime.

This makes the DR process one of the most technologically intense and financially essential aspects for businesses. Below, we've listed some of the best recovery plans pre and post disasters.

Pre-Disaster

Speaking of best disaster recovery plans, nothing should supersede the practice of keeping your data and work operation safe while anticipating a disaster. Although there are several ways for businesses to return to normality in the event of a catastrophe, the best route is that of prevention. Here are the various ways you can prevent high-scale damage in a disaster.

pre-disaster considerations

Hiring DRaaS

One of the best safety measures for businesses is to acquire Disaster Recovery as a Service.

Outsourcing disaster recovery plans is a financially savvy and risk-free alternative for businesses low on in-house IT expertise. There are several cloud computing companies offering businesses DRaaS services that ensure the protection of your applications and data following a disaster.

These companies create a virtual copy of your system, which activates when your onsite system goes into downtime. This is vital for mission-critical systems that cannot afford any lapse. While your in-house infrastructure can look after the operations during regular hours, it is replaced by the secondary virtual copy in case of a failure.

Since the virtual copy operations take place in the cloud, your business's functionality is up 24*7 even as your in-house architecture is disrupted.

Most DRaaS services are flexible in their configurations offered across multiple platforms. You must conduct proper research before hiring the best DRaaS for your business.

Automating Backups and Deploying Advanced Data Protection

Several advanced data protection measures have surfaced recently. The most popular among them is software-based methods involving geo-redundant cloud copies. These copies keep your business up and running with backup automation. Your data and operations remain accessible irrespective of the disaster that strikes.

The backup software stores copies of your files in several off-site locations, known as DR data centers, ensuring that they are isolated and away from the catastrophe site. Good backup automation providers employ the latest technology and ensure that the database is expanded into large sizes to keep the operations running for as long as it is necessary.

Keep in mind that companies' quality of backup appliances can vary in functionality. You must conduct thorough research of the hardware and software involved in the solution of your provider before opting for one.

Having a Detailed DR Plan

Business owners know the havoc a single second's downtime can wreak. Every second on hold is a large amount of cash doomed down the drain.

The best way to avoid this kind of downtime is prevention. In the wake of a disaster, a plan in one's head cannot yield effective execution. After creating a detailed DR plan, businesses must document it and send copies to people responsible for getting the systems back into operation.

Also, the plan must enumerate the steps needed to restore the system in a typical working environment. It will help if you do not rely on backup functions in the third-party cloud for too long.

Post Disaster

While prevention is the best cure, your system can never come out 100% undamaged in the wake of a disaster. Here's what you must do once the disruption has happened.

Identifying the Disaster Cause

After a disaster has struck, the first thing to do is to identify the cause. There are usually five common causes of disaster or system disruption:

identifying the disaster cause

Hardware Failure

Equipment failure is one of the most common causes of system downtime. Prominent examples are the failure of data center storage equipment like hard drives. All hardware is prone to failure at some point. This is why companies must have a good backup in store.

Power Outages

Power outages are another likely cause of system disruption. Some outages end up damaging your computer systems, making replacements inevitable. Businesses without a DR plan can suffer greatly in such situations.

Natural Disasters

Businesses also suffer discontinuity due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, etc. While it is impossible to stop a seismological event, businesses having a sound DR plan can minimize damage.

Human Error

Human errors and improper training can result in significant damages. Simple accidents such as deleting an important document or failing to save the file's correct version can have dire consequences. Employees must be thoroughly trained to avoid making such errors as much as possible.

Malware and Viruses

Make sure that your systems are adequately encrypted and safe from malicious intents. An infected system can eventually contaminate the entire network. Businesses must have proper countermeasures to protect themselves from viruses and ransomware.

Prioritizing Identification and Recovery of Mission-Critical Systems

Mission-critical systems lead to the most significant damage during downtime.

To avoid panic, you must prepare a list of the top mission-critical systems in advance and restore them priority. It will help prepare a list of sequential assignments that can be performed in a prescribed order.

Your DR team must be informed of the criticality of these assignments and the priorities. Systems should be restored in an order that results in minimum damage and loss of revenue.

Determining Downtime Costs

Disasters are inevitable, and once they strike, you must accept a period of downtime and financial loss, although the degree of severity can vary based on how well you are prepared. Listing down the consequences of the disaster, downtime tenure, and resulting losses can help you expedite recovery and take the proper steps for restoring the system. Once informed about the level of disruption, your remedial actions can become more laser-focused in minimizing damages.

Testing and Re-evaluating DR Systems

With your DR systems in place, you must carry out occasional tests and system evaluations to avoid any unpleasant surprises the next time a catastrophe hits.

Keep in mind that testing your DR plan should be more than just having your team scan the document and mark it 'right'. Your DR plan may contain subtle errors that are missed by untrained eyes. The most certain action would be to run scenarios that test the effectiveness of your recovery plan by introducing new challenges. It is even better if you can execute the recovery processes and see that they don't disappoint.

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