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A good backup/disaster recovery plan

Can you recommend a plan/outline or the steps to go through to create a good backup/disaster recovery plan?

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This is a huge question to try and answer in one e-mail, but there are basically six steps to creating such a plan. The six steps are as follows:

1. Define (un)acceptable loss.
Before you develop a disaster recovery plan, decide how much you will lose if you don't. That will help you decide how much time, effort and money to spend on a disaster recovery plan.

2. Back up everything.
You have to make sure that everything is backed up including data, metadata and the instructions you'll need to get them back. This includes providing for backup FACILITIES including buildings, phones, people, etc. (Backup facilities is often the hardest part of any DR plan.)

3. Organize everything.
You have everything on backup volumes. But can you find the volume you need when disaster strikes? The key to being able to find your backups is organization.

4. Protect against disasters.
Most people think about natural disasters only when creating a disaster recovery plan. There are other types of disasters and you have to protect against all of them.

5. Document what you have done.
You need to document your plan in such a way that anyone can follow your steps after or during a disaster.

6. Test, test, test. 
A disaster recovery plan that has not been tested is not a plan; it's a proposal. You don't want to be in the middle of a disaster and discover that you have forgotten some critical steps.


This was first published in May 2002

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