By Jeff Clauer
If you saw the title of this article and thought, “never,” you’re not alone. A majority of SMBs—58 percent—test their network recovery plan, also called a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan, once each year or less, and one-third of those businesses test infrequently or not at all.
You have a network recovery plan, what’s the big deal, right? The big deal is, that extended downtime could cost your company so much in lost profits and the cost of recovery that your business won’t survive. And without testing your network recovery plan, how do you know it will work? Are you comfortable leaving that to chance?
Why SMBs Don’t Test Network Recovery
Most SMBs don’t even have a disaster recovery plan in place. Of those that do, some use disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) to ensure they’re covered in the event there’s a disaster. However, if those businesses that have DRaaS aren’t testing their recovery services, there’s no way to be 100 percent certain you can get the systems back online. Some DRaaS providers are only interested in selling the DRaaS. Anything beyond that the business is responsible for. If you’re contracting for DRaaS, be sure to ask about the frequency with which testing is being done.
If you’re handling your network recovery in-house, there could be a few reasons that testing isn’t happening:
- Cost: Simulating the conditions under which your business may suffer a downed network can be expensive. It means taking your company completely offline for a short period to determine if the procedures for restoring the business are operating properly. However, consider the cost of not being able to restore your system after a disaster. A controlled outage will be much more cost effective than the inability to restore your data after a disaster occurs.
- Time: It takes time to build and execute a network recovery test. You will need dedicated IT personnel to prepare and execute the plan, and it won’t happen quickly. However, taking the time to invest in understanding your recovery process now will save you downtime in the event you need to activate the plan.
- Complexity: For businesses that can overcome the cost and the time it takes to conduct a regular test of the recovery plan, complexity is where they often get tripped up. Specifically, it’s in having the right talent to manage a BDR test in a way to ensure that your business can continue to function during the test. Many SMBs simply can’t afford that kind of IT talent.
Overcome BDR Testing Challenges
Given the cost, complexity, and time necessary to test a network recovery plan properly, how are SMBs that don’t have the resources supposed to make these tests happen? Some SMBs just leave it to chance. They have a backup and they assume that it will work if network recovery becomes the only option.
Others turn to a managed IT services provider (MSP). An MSP has the IT staff necessary to help you complete a network recovery plan and then to execute your network testing on a regular schedule. The frequency of the testing is usually determined individually, but the minimum interval for testing should be one year, however, most businesses will need to conduct the testing twice a year or quarterly.
Having a network recovery plan is great, but if you’ve never tested that plan, there is no way to be certain it will work. Even if the plan was tested when it was implemented, ongoing testing needs to be a part of maintaining that plan because elements of your IT infrastructure are changing all the time and any of those changes could break something.
A better practice is to test your recovery plan at least one time per year, but two to four times is even better. If that’s not manageable due to time constraints, costs, or network complexity, give Advanced Network Solutions a call. We can help you test your existing recovery plan and update it as necessary to ensure that you’re covered in the event that something takes your network offline.