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Can you conduct a disaster recovery test plan on a budget?

While it's always safer for businesses to have properly funded DR plan testing, there are ways to assess your plan even when the data storage budget is not there.

If your data storage budget doesn't include a line item to review your disaster recovery test plan, don't panic....

You can still ensure the procedures and resources to recover IT assets work as designed with a few slight changes that will limit, but not cripple, your test.

While it is desirable to have an overall plan for each DR test that defines the purpose, scope, objectives and success criteria, this level of DR testing can last hours or even days. But if your disaster recovery test plan funding is limited, is it feasible and practical to conduct a test in an hour or less? The answer is yes, but with the following conditions:

  • Expectations need to be changed, as time and lack of funding may not permit more rigorous testing.
  • Success criteria need to be modified, as the inability to turn systems on and off and then record what happens will likely not occur.
  • The number of DR participants will probably be less than in a true technology test, as the various technicians, programmers and administrators may not be available or needed.

So what elements of a disaster recovery test plan can you examine under such constraints? You can gather key test participants in a conference room, or use a conference bridge; distribute all relevant documents; and conduct a high-level walkthrough of the test, its structure, activities, scripts and other components without going into a significant level of detail. While this approach in no way replaces a true DR test, it is far less costly, enables discussion of key test attributes and identifies areas that may require further analysis.

Disaster recovery test plan documents

If you're looking for more help with your DR testing and business continuity processes, Paul Kirvan has created the following downloadable templates:

  • DR process-level planning and procedures template
    This document outlines the policies and procedures for technology disaster recovery, and how to recover critical platforms.
  • Business continuity plan template
    This BC plan helps users prepare for extended service outages and discusses how to restore those services to the widest extent possible in a minimum timeframe.

But there are possible risks with this approach to testing a DR plan. For example, technology that has not been properly tested and validated can cause a device or application to fail when placed into production.

Next Steps

Align your DR plan test with routine maintenance

Experts provide essentials for corporate DR plans

Companies more confident in DR plans than disaster recovery testing

This was last published in May 2016

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How do you conduct DR plan testing with limited or no funding?
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