What is a Disaster Recovery Plan & How Do You Make One?

Bob Deleeck
Bob Deleeck
03 August 2023

Rubrik Backup & Recovery Disaster Recovery HYCU

An IT disaster is an event that stops your systems, databases, and applications from working. The average cost of a disaster like this to a business is 50,000+. For large companies, the figure goes up to €5,000,000+.

Most companies don’t recover from disasters and ransomware attacks. The costs are too high. 93% of organizations go out of business within a year after a major disaster (Security Magazine).

The good news is that a disaster recovery plan (DRP) can protect your systems, your data, sensitive information, and your business operations. You can keep working (and thriving) through any disaster with a little forethought. 

This is what we’re going to talk about today. As experts in data protection and disaster recovery, Agisko knows what it takes to survive disasters and avoid lengthy unplanned downtime.

Today, we'll explain what a DRP is, dive into DR strategies, cover its benefits, and give you everything you need to make your own plans. 


What is Disaster Recovery Plan?

A DRP is a set of procedures that help bring IT systems online after a disaster and system breakdown. The goals of a DRP are:

  1. Limiting damage and service disruption (response).
  2. Recovering and resuming operations after an IT disaster (recovery).

With a good recovery plan, systems will survive earthquakes, power outages, cyberattacks, and more. Also, your data will remain safe and your operations uninterrupted through any disaster.

Common disaster types that organizations plan for include (but are not limited to)

  • Hardware failure: can be caused by damage, physical degeneration, short-circuit events, etc.
  • Application failure: can be caused by poor code, external attacks, work environment problems, etc.
  • Communication failure
  • Power outage
  • Cyberattack: phishing, malware, ransomware

Now that we’ve defined DRP, let’s look at their 4 main types. 

Disaster recovery plan type: 4 examples

The best disaster recovery strategies make a digital twin of your IT system. This digital twin is spun up when it needs to stand in for a disaster-struck system as needed. It might include servers, networks, applications, operating systems, databases, and more.

The 4 main types of DRPs are:

#1 Data center disaster recovery plan

A Data center DRP is for data centers. It protects your physical data center by backing it up. The backup system is a twin of the main one located remotely or on-premise.

A comprehensive data center recovery plan takes a lot of money and resources to put into place. This is because the plan must account for physical objects: buildings, power sources, and so on. Protecting these objects adds layers of complexity to a DRP and its implementation. 

#2 Network disaster recovery plan

A network DRP helps restore network services following a disaster. It helps restore Internet access, the external network framework, and any other equipment, application, or process needed.

In addition to a checklist, a network DRP may list other things - like the equipment you need to get in advance, critical information your team needs to know, etc. It will also tell you how to know when a network is back to normal.

#3 Virtual disaster recovery plan

A virtual DRP helps recover IT systems using virtual machines. This usually involves backing up systems onto virtual machines (VMs) off-premise. 

These virtual machines contain replicas of your IT assets, processes, applications, etc. In the event of a disaster, the VMs take over what your workstations used to do. Work carries on uninterrupted. 

In the case of extensive damage, a virtual machine can replace your workstations wholesale. Work can continue uninterrupted this way, no matter the effects of a disaster.

Virtual machines are hardware independent, highly secure, and fast to deploy. In addition, they will remain safe even when something happens to your on-premise equipment. This negates the problems and limitations of a physical backup location. 

#4 Cloud disaster recovery plan

Cloud-based DRPs involve storing your backups on the cloud. This is different from a virtual DRP because storage is on a distributed cloud, not a specific virtual machine. 

Cloud DRPs are cheap to implement. They are reliable because they don’t have a single physical or virtual machine as a point of failure. And they can be implemented quickly through Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) vendors like Agisko.

In the modern world, cloud DRPs are the gold standard in response and recovery.

What are the main benefits of having a DRP in place?

Do you need a DRP? Take a look at their benefits below and see for yourself! 

1. Business continuity,

DRPs limit system downtime. This means you’re never losing money or business opportunities, even in case of a severe disaster (like complete on-prem data loss).

You can continue business processes, accept payments, and process orders at all times. 

2. Compliance

Complying with industry regulations means having certain levels of uptime and data protection. Laws and authorities like HIPAA, FINRA, and ESMA (European Union) are the gold standards. Having a DRP makes it easy to stay compliant. 

3. Minimize damage and downtime

A DRP means fewer risks, accidents, and disasters. A DRP guarantees data availability and physical security for IT systems if incidents happen. This reduces the impact of IT disasters while saving your company money.

4. Increased productivity and lower costs

A DRP means there is less need for redundancies. You can do more with fewer resources, improving your productivity. Focusing on preparation and prevention means less money spent on responding to disasters.

5. Improved product and improved customer happiness

Customers aren't happy when your product or service isn't working or data is lost. Reducing risks and problems for your customers helps improve your product. A DRP helps ensure your customers are happier.

6. Data security

When incidents happen, you are at risk of data loss and exposure. For example, third parties might steal customer data, infect your systems with ransomware, etc. 

When this happens, customers lose faith in your ability to protect their data, and vendors don’t want to do business with you. In short, it may cause severe reputational damage. Team members spend much time and energy explaining the mistake to everyone. 

Having a DRP helps limit these security risks and decrease your vulnerability. It also gives you a method for recovering that data and continuing operations.

This is why data security is arguably the most important part of a data recovery plan.

Join our upcoming event, Save the Data, to feel and experience a ransomware attack first-hand. Seats are limited, so register now to secure your spot.


Checklist: 12 disaster recovery plan must-haves

#1 Objective/major goal

It is critical that your DR plan clearly states your primary goals for recovery. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and pulling in the right direction. For instance, the following questions might help:

  • What are our DRPs main objectives?
  • How will we know we've recovered from the disaster? 

#2 Preparation

Having a DRP is essential. But what happens if you don't practice your company's response? Employees will be sluggish, and people won't know what to do.

Practicing a DRP will boost your team's performance in the event of a disaster. When things go south, your preparation will get you back up and running faster.

#3 Recovery time objective & recovery point objective

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is how long we can spend on recovering normal operations, e.g., 3 hours or 10 minutes. 

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is how much data we can lose, like how long we can be on downtime, e.g., 2 hours of data.

These are important benchmarks to know. They help prioritize decision-making and recovery processes after a disaster. Accurate, helpful targets will help you get to the baseline you need to restore operations. Consider even

#4 Application and equipment inventory

You need a list of your up-to-date inventory and digital assets. You can categorize these as

  • critical assets,
  • important ones, and
  • unimportant ones. 

This will help you prioritize which part of your infrastructure to focus on during a disaster.

#5 Responsibilities and roles

Having a communication plan in place, and making sure people are familiar with their roles, is vital. Effective comms are one of the most important things to recover in the event of a disaster.

Who does what?

  • Who's responsible for declaring the disaster and contacting 3rd-party vendors and external stakeholders?
  • Who will report to management, communicate with customers, and report on the recovery effort? 

#6 Disaster response procedures

What is the exact set of procedures you need to follow? The steps should be explained in clear, direct, and simple language. This is a company document that helps the recovery process go smoothly.

#7 Identify sensitive processes and data

Which of our processes and what data is sensitive? This could include employee or consumer information, credit card data, and intellectual property. Knowing who has access to this data and how it is backed up is important so you can prioritize its recovery.

#8 Physical facility needs

When a physical disaster like a flood strikes, you must know how to restore your facility to operation. In addition, you need to know the minimal physical needs to do that. This DRP checklist item will improve your disaster response times.

#9 Impact analysis and internal/external responses

A business impact analysis is a systematic process to decide and evaluate the potential effects of unplanned downtime on critical business operations. Therefore, questions you need to ask involved:

  • How are we going to analyze the business impact of what happened?
  • How do we relay what happened to the media, employees, and our team?

#10 Recovery activity

You've completed your first response procedures. You've secured your sensitive data and processes. Now, it’s time to ask questions that return you from recovery to normal ops:

After analyzing what happened, how do you get things back to normal? And protect against the type of disaster that just happened? 

#11 Creating new processes for future security

Once a disaster has happened and you've responded appropriately, it's time to look at the data. How did it happen? What were areas of weakness? Could it have been prevented? Could we have responded better? 

Answering these questions will help you create new processes and procedures to safeguard your company in the future.

#12 Testing the system to prevent repeat ransomware attacks

Running tests and simulations is part of the process of preventing repeat disasters. This is especially important when dealing with cybercrime. Running tests on your newly implemented processes will tell you if you have shored up your defenses enough.

In closing

It can be hard to devote time and money to implementing and testing a DRP on your own. And finding a solid disaster recovery plan template online is difficult and not the ideal way to go. However, this doesn't mean this is something to write off and hope a disaster never happens to you.

You can save a lot of time and money by using our cloud-based recovery plan at Agisko. Let us create your DRP so you can spend more time refining your product and service.

In the meantime, we also want to invite you to our upcoming event, Save the Data. 

  • In this live role-playing experience, you'll get an end-to-end understanding of what happens in the event of a ransomware attack.
  • You are dropped into the middle of an attack story based on real-life events and will get to weigh the options to work through the fallout.

Are you ready? Reserve your seat now!


Bob Deleeck

Bob Deleeck

Bob Deleeck is a co-founder at Agisko and has over 15 years of experience in the field of virtualization, business, and application continuity.

Related articles

Rubrik Backup & Recovery Disaster Recovery

Why is Disaster Recovery Important?

An IT disaster is an event that damages computer systems, networks, and processes. An average disaster costs 4 million eur...

Read More

Agisko Rubrik Application Continuity Events

Save the Data 2023

Save the Data 2023 is a wrap. And what an event! We all know the sound of the alarm...the fire alarm. Procedures are in pl...

Read More

Rubrik Backup & Recovery Security Hygiene Application Continuity Data Protection

Cybersecurity Challenges 2024: Navigating the Digital Battlefield

In an era of relentless technological advancement, the realm of cybersecurity faces unprecedented challenges. The year 202...

Read More