Key Elements in Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Whether it’s a tornado in Oklahoma, a hurricane in Florida or an earthquake in San Francisco, natural disasters of any type share similar characteristics. One, they are usually difficult to predict and two, they can severely impact an organization’s business operations. Yet despite an increase in natural disasters over the past few years, many companies, including those who are already leveraging the benefits of  cloud infrastructure, are reticent to invest the time, resources and budget into disaster recovery (DR) planning.

If you’re still on the fence about investing in the development of a disaster recovery plan, consider this:

  •  80% of companies that suffer a major disaster and don’t have any form of contingency planning go into liquidation within 18 months
  • 93% of companies that lost their data for 10 days or more file bankruptcy within one year of the disaster, and 50% file for bankruptcy immediately
  • The average cost of downtime for a mid-sized company is $70,000 per hour

Sure, you can view disaster recovery services as an “expensive insurance policy” that your company may never use. Or, you can put a DR plan in place to ensure your organization will be up and running with minimal disruption to your customers, staff and partners.

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Keep in mind that a disaster recovery plan doesn’t need to be complicated – you don’t have to rewrite the Magna Carta. A disaster recovery plan is simply a documented set of processes that helps a company minimize disruption to business operations in the event of an outage. What follows are some key steps to help you create one.

Outline roles and responsibilities

A good DR plan should detail what your staff needs to do in the event of a disaster, what communication methods are required and the timeframe in which critical IT services need to be reinstated.

  • Create a contact list of key people involved in your company’s DR plan including names, titles and communication info (both work and personal) such as phone numbers, email addresses and social media handles, if applicable.
  • Provide a detailed overview of their roles and responsibilities so that everyone knows what is expected of them in the event of an outage.
  • Finally, have a written process in place for how your disaster recovery plan will updated and how these updates will be communicated to the team.

Analyze potential threats and outcomes

Take the time to determine “worst case scenarios” for your particular business, industry and geographic location. For example, a company located in San Francisco will be more concerned about earthquakes than tornadoes. An ecommerce company could analyze the risks and business impact of a data breach, while a manufacturing firm could map out scenarios based on production downtime.

Next, rank each possible disaster and its potential long-term consequences. Map out how your team would respond to each one. This will provide a framework of issues that need to be covered in your DR plan.

Factor in data loss

A key component of your DR plan should address data loss and recovery. Create a list of scenarios that could impact your data assets including deleted or corrupt files, server hardware failure, viruses or data breaches caused by an employee’s personal laptop, and so forth.

There are two key concepts that will help determine your protection and recovery strategy:

  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – this measures the maximum acceptable data loss in terms of time (minutes, hours, days).
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – this refers to the target maximum allowable time to recover from an outage.

By classifying your business operations according to these two metrics, you can select the appropriate protection and recovery technologies. You can also determine if your organization is a good candidate for a cloud-based DR solution.

Consider a cloud-based DR solution

Traditional cloud-based DR solutions have been cost-prohibitive for many organizations while failing to provide adequate protection. Fortunately, the popularity of cloud computing has brought a wave of cloud-hosted DR solutions – also known as DR in the cloud or recovery-as-a-service (RaaS). These solutions offer many advantages over traditional backup solutions including low-cost virtual infrastructures that minimize downtime and provide for faster recovery. Cloud-based disaster recovery solutions also remove risk and provide better predictability by allowing businesses to conduct frequent testing without incurring the cost of additional business services.

Gain more tools and insights into creating a rock-solid DR plan by attending our latest webinar on Thursday, June 26 at 3 p.m. EDT.


  1. I looking for the author and date this blog post was published so I can correctly site it for a school paper on disaster recovery. Thanks!

    • Hi Raygan –

      Thank you for reading the HOSTING blog! You can attribute the blog post to Allison Bergamo, Senior Content Writer at HOSTING! Take care and keep in touch!

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