disaster recovery (DR) test definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Disaster prevention and mitigation strategies: Strike early and often
Contributor(s): Ed Hannan

A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) planning process.

Disaster recovery testing helps ensure that an organization can really recover data, restore business critical applications and continue operations after an interruption of services. In many organizations, however, DR testing is neglected simply because creating a plan for disaster recovery can tie up resources and the plan itself, once completed, is seen as the solution.

If an organization doesn't invest time and resources into testing its disaster recovery plan, however, there’s a very real chance that the plan will fail to execute as expected when it's really needed. Communications, data recovery and application recovery are typically a focus of all disaster recovery testing. Other areas for testing vary, depending on the organization's recovery point (RPO) and recovery time  (RTO) objectives.

Disaster recovery tests should be conducted on a regular basis throughout the year and be incorporated into all planned maintenance and staff training. Once a test has been completed, audit logs and other data should be analyzed to determine what worked as expected, what didn't work as expected, what changes need to be made to the DR plan's design and what tasks need to be scheduled for re-testing.

This was first published in August 2014

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