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IT Disaster Recovery Checklist

Disasters strike. Power outages, human error, hardware failures, data corruptions, cyber attacks, floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados — all have the potential to disrupt your business operations. An IT disaster recovery plan provides granular steps to recover your disrupted networks and systems, for a resumption of normal business operations. When the average cost of losing critical applications is estimated to be $5,000 a minute1, the effort to prepare is clearly worthwhile.

Here are general steps you can take, but note that it is not necessarily complete as disaster recovery needs vary based on the individual business.

  • Know what is the length of time it would take to fully recover from a disaster with your current backup solution
  • Check whether you have a formal, documented plan to follow in the event of an IT disaster
  • Review and test the plan regularly and leave in the hands of those who will need to implement it
  • List potential threats, including environmental disasters, hacking events and other emergency situations, consider the business impact of each, and list remedial actions where possible
  • List your key business processes, the business impact, and the data backup strategy for each
    • Identify preventative measures that could be conducted in advance to mitigate damage
    • Understand what your business downtime cost is per hour and per day
  • List all IT equipment and details of each
    • Include your systems, your LAN, WAN, remote connectivity and communications
    • Identify the greatest vulnerabilities
    • List what are the most critical IT assets
    • Record what backup systems are in place already
  • Identify critical file systems, and create an ordered list of what should be restored first
  • Identify all financial, insurance and legal issues
    • List your banks and insurance policies and contact information
    • Know what compliance regulations must be adhered to
  • List clearly-defined responsibilities of senior management and the IT team, including who has what authority, and who is the initial contact
  • Define the appropriate recovery types
  • Catalog the key performance indicators and timelines for:
    • Emergency level of service
    • Key services restoration
    • Business as usual recovery
    • Emergency escalation process
  • Plan to test and confirm restored functionality with users
  • After the emergency
    • Notify insurance of any losses
    • Draft and distribute a post-event assessment
      • Incident description
      • Who was notified of the emergency and when
      • Actions taken by the IT team, and the outcomes
      • Assess the impact to normal business operations
      • Identify any problems and suggest solutions for future events
      • List any other lessons learned
    • Distribute and review the report with senior management and the business units

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