Plan ahead for recovery
The most important thing an enterprise can do to prepare for anything from a catastrophe to a failed RAID array is to develop a comprehensive response plan. A successful plan takes both a thorough planning effort and, equally importantly, requires buy-in from the people who will be affected by the problem.
In any such plan the devil is in the details. From lack of electric power to run the fuel pumps on emergency generators to incompatible tape formats on primary and back-up servers, history is replete with examples of problems caused by seemingly insignificant details that no one thought about until it was too late. A checklist of things to consider in a disaster recovery plan is at www.disasterplan.com/yellowpages/Displan.html. Go over the with a fine tooth comb. After you think you've got everything in there that you need, test your plan in a simulated disaster to make sure that everything will work.
Not only is it important to get user agreement with a plan, but user input is invaluable in making such a plan because the users are likely to come up with details the IT department might not think of. As an example of a complete disaster plan, a version of MIT's business continuity plan is available at www.mit.edu/security/www/publplan.htm.
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.
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