6 Essential Elements of an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Some Of The Things Your Business Recovery Plan Must Include

Disasters, both man-made and natural, happen often and come in all shapes and sizes. They hit organizations in many forms - from a lightning strike to ransomware - with little to no warning.

Although those things are impossible to predict, there are some measures you can use to prepare for potential worst-case scenarios. One of them is a disaster recovery plan that can address any type of disaster. 

What is disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery is an organization's method that involves a set of policies, tools, and procedures that help them respond to and recover from situations that negatively affect business operations (cyber-attacks, natural disasters, IT infrastructure failures, pandemics, etc.)

What is a DRP?

A disaster recovery plan is an essential part of each and every business continuity plan (BCP). Its purpose is to minimize disaster strikes consequences and help business owners get back to work as soon as possible.

In short, it is a documented process that contains a disaster recovery strategy and a list of precise and easy-to-understand procedures and practices designed to protect your company from not-so-cheap disasters.

Let's make one thing crystal clear - your employees are the number one reason why you need to have a disaster recovery plan in the first place. It's not like your workers sabotage critical systems on purpose - although that sometimes happens.

It is more about the risk that comes from your employees who are just being humans - they make accidental mistakes like everyone else. They can open a malware-infected file attached to a message or open a bad link.

6 elements that every disaster recovery plan must include

There are many components of a good disaster recovery plan, and AJTC has lined up 6 most important elements that your DRP should include:

1. IT asset inventory

When creating a DR plan for your business, you must know what resources you need to cover. You need to create a list of your software, hardware, and peripherals used by your vendors, contractors, and employees.

This assessment and risk examination is usually performed by an IT provider and may take some time to complete depending on company size and business process complexity.

2. Forming an IT disaster plan

Once you have a full list of IT assets you need to protect - cloud, hardware, systems, data - it is time to start forming your IT disaster plan. However, that is easier said than done. 

The entire phase starts by processing data we get from an initial assessment to find out what works best for your business operations and possible scenarios.

That being said, DR planning varies because every business is unique and has specific needs, different operations, and so on and so forth.

One of the cheapest ways to ensure a "perfunctory" disaster recovery plan is to move to the cloud instead of maintaining your on-site data centers because they already have their own military-grade protection.

3. Cross-training or staff backup training

In order to put a reliable DRP into action, you must adapt strategies throughout the organization. Well-trained individuals are invaluable during a crisis. Wondering why so? 

Because when each member of your team understands their primal role in the disaster recovery process, there is no question about who is responsible for what. They can act quickly and bring your business back on its feet.

To make a long story short, business owners must invest in training staff - in their individual roles and cyber security awareness.

4. Include data and workflow in your backups

There's no doubt that the cornerstone of every DRP is data backup that prevents data loss. Did you know that almost 9 out of 10 companies close their business within one year after experiencing significant data loss?

However, remember that not all data backup solutions are created equal. Here we talk about how most backup solutions only duplicate your data files, not your entire IT system.

This means that without being able to access your operating systems, applications, and data after a disaster happens, your organization could have unbelievable problems with restoration, which is the last thing you want if you are serious about growing your business.

That's why here at AJTC, we exclusively follow the world's finest cloud backup procedures and leverage the 3-2-1 data backup rule to duplicate your entire system - not just individual files.

Wondering what the 3-2-1 role is? It means we make 3 copies of your files, applications, and operating systems, and you get 2 types of storage for backups and 1 offsite location where we store it.

5. Metrics that matter in a disaster recovery plan

One of the things you have to talk about with your IT support in Chicago when developing a DRP is metrics. This discussion may include:

  • What is the RTO (Recovery Time Objective)?
  • What is the desired RPO (Recovery Point Objective)?

The recovery time objective is the amount of real-time your systems, networks, or applications services can be down after disaster or failure, while the recovery point objective is the maximum amount of data that can be lost after recovering from those events.

However, the question we often hear from people in IT-related business is: "Can we get up and running within the same day or a few hours?"

In general, you can get that service, but be aware that it will come with a slightly higher price tag. You can expect things like how often your digital assets are updated and backed up, whether or not you have migrated to the cloud, and how quickly you want to get your business back on its feet to be reflected in the final price.

As you can see, it is always a good thing to have a discussion with your potential providers about the costs versus benefits so you can make the best decision for your business. 

6. A comprehensive testing strategy

Don't wait for something bad to happen to see if your disaster recovery plan works because it might be too late to save your business. You need to test the recovery strategy to see how it works to ensure business continuity. Your testing strategy should attain three main objectives:

  • Test your employees to ensure they know protocols and what to do in a real emergency.
  • Test your DR processes to see if they work.
  • Test your backups to ensure files are protected and recoverable.

For real, who would like to find itself digging out of an awful disaster... But... The thing is that forest fires, hurricanes, ransomware attacks, and good old-fashioned human error can come out of the blue, leaving you powerless if you don't have a DRP.

Remember, recovery plans are only effective if you test them and teach everyone what to do in such scenarios.

What is a disaster recovery policy?

The whole purpose of a disaster recovery policy is to determine critical business tech assets and activities necessary to ensure business continuity if something goes wrong.

The policy encompasses everything vital for business operations - physical facilities, software, equipment, and even employees - and shows what steps a company need to take to recover.

Since the vast majority confuse disaster recovery plans with disaster recovery policies, let's clear up these misunderstandings:

  • A disaster recovery plan is an all-inclusive program that covers every possible scenario that could happen, addressing issues such as cyber-attacks, data corruption, hardware destruction, and lack of connectivity. 
  • A disaster recovery policy precisely defines how you will behave in a case of a disaster. However, when it comes to ensuring business continuity, a disaster recovery plan is pretty much useless without a good practical policy that relevant stakeholders understand and practice.

Major goals of a business disaster recovery plan

A sound understanding of the DR plan's nature, scope, and limitations ensures that everyone's expectations are realistic and the it project plan supports an organization in achieving its goals and aspirations. Let's take a peek at the major goals of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan:

  • To minimize emergencies that affect information systems and ensure optimal business operations.
  • To limit the extent of damage and disruption.
  • To mitigate the economic impact of a disaster.
  • To establish plan B and alternative solutions that keep vital business operations functional.
  • To train staff with the best emergency procedures.
  • To quickly get your business on its feet.

Disaster recovery plan examples

To help business owners in developing their own disaster recovery plan - so when disaster strikes, their business doesn't have to suffer- AJTC has pulled together easy-to-follow guidelines.

Step #1

Determine the major goals of your plan

Determining your goals help you to understand what your business needs most when something bad happens - what's the most important thing you should immediately address to prevent things start falling apart?

Step #2 


Create an organizational chart and include it with your plan. Include employees' names, positions, addresses, telephone numbers, and other business-relevant details. Your plan should clearly define who is in charge of what in disaster recovery processes.

Step #3

Application profile

To have an effective disaster recovery plan, you must have an all-inclusive and up-to-day IT asset inventory. To do so, you can categorize them like this:

  • Critical assets without which you can't run your business.
  • Important applications you are using at least once a day.
  • Unimportant stuff that you use occasionally.

As you can see, you need to find things that matter to your business in order to ensure your recovery plan addresses all vital aspects.

Step #4

List of disaster recovery sites

One of the things that a DRP should also cover is where the organization's assets are located and where you are going to move them after an event. There are 3 main types of disaster recovery sites:

  • Hot sites are functional data centers containing IT equipment, technicians, and updated customer data.
  • Warm sites are also data centers with a small difference: you can access vital systems only - there is no updated customer data.
  • Cold sites keep duplicates of your data and systems, but you can't immediately run your operational system.

Step #5

Data storage

In today's fast-paced and digital society, most companies collect data and have thousands of files stored on backup tapes, external hard drives, and other storage media. 

Your data must be protected if you want to avoid compliance violations. The best solution to protect your documents is to move them to the cloud.

Step #6

Disaster response procedures

Last but not least is a documented procedure that contains step-by-step guidelines for responding to a catastrophic event. 

The first couple of hours of a disaster are crucial, and your employees should know how to act and what to do to prevent things from falling apart. That's not all - they also need to know how to bring everything back to normal, right?

Why is a disaster recovery plan important?

No company can afford to neglect disaster recovery. The two most important benefits of having a DRP are:

  • Cost savings: Preventing disasters can save you hundreds of thousands of bucks.
  • Quicker recovery: Businesses can get up and running much faster after a catastrophe or even keep working during the eve event.


Disaster recovery is an integral part of managed security services that strives to protect companies from the harmful effects of unexpected disasters, such as civil emergencies, cyber attacks, power outages, military or criminal attacks, and natural disasters.

However, creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan is not a walk in the park, but with AJTC, you can find an approach that is the right fit for your needs.

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