Disaster Recovery Testing: Methodologies and Scenarios to Test

Marketing Software Automation

In the IT industry, a business can lose more than $400,000 per hour, depending on the company’s size. Thus, it is important to have a solid disaster recovery plan and then regularly and properly test it. It is critical to include creating a DR plan and establishing the process of testing that plan to ensure its integrity and effectiveness.Disaster recovery testing ensures that a business can easily and effectively recover from any operational disruption. However, for disaster recovery testing to succeed, you must know the types of disaster recovery testing and what scenarios to test. Identifying which recovery scenario to test is also tricky since threats evolve daily.

Scenarios for Disaster Recovery Testing

The truth is that there are endless possibilities and scenarios when it comes to disaster recovery testing. To be 100% prepared for every imaginable situation, you must do exhaustive testing. However, not all businesses will have the time or resources to conduct robust testing. The next best thing to do is identify the critical scenarios you should test for.

Data Loss and Backup Recovery

One of the most important scenarios you can test for is data loss and backup recovery. When data loss happens, you need to be able to restore that data from the backup immediately. It doesn’t matter if the data loss is just a single file or an entire island is not working; you need to restore everything to how it was to avoid a costly situation.

First, test that your backups are good and can be restored without a problem. Make sure to test on both file-level and full machine restoration. After testing, it is important to note how long the recovery took to complete and if any unexpected issues hindered it. You must infer any improvements you can make from the testing data to speed up the recovery.

Failed Backups

Another scenario that you should test is when a backup fails to restore. Businesses that rely on traditional backups encounter scenarios like this. Thus, if you have a traditional incremental backup, it is important to test for such scenarios. Testing for this scenario usually includes troubleshooting to see if the failed backup is restorable in time and if restoring from another backup is possible.

Backup Verification

The good thing about this is that most backup systems now include automated backup verification or validation checks. Before, businesses would manually test backups, and though that’s a good idea, it can be time-consuming. If you have automated verification testing, you still need to check if the backup is restored correctly and that there’s no data corruption anywhere.

Hardware Failure

Hardware failure is among the common causes of data loss and downtime. You need to test whether a hardware failure is the reason for the disaster and if that hardware is salvageable or needs replacement. How fast can you get the replacement if you’ve determined that the hardware needs replacing? You need to test for scenarios like these.

Network Outages and Interruptions

Your business will also be affected when network interruptions and outages take longer to restore. These outages can cause disruptions as costly as losing data. When such things happen, your team should be able to react quickly. You can make that possible if they are ready for such scenarios. Thus, disaster recovery testing for network interruptions is crucial.

You need to test for unexpected surges in traffic and create a testing scenario for when there’s a crippling network attack. You should also conduct network health testing to check for potential issues in any parts of the network.

Types of Disaster Recovery Testing

The only way to confirm whether a disaster recovery plan is appropriate for the business needs is testing. There are different types of disaster recovery testing:

Checklist Testing

You can gather enough knowledge and resources for every business process with checklist testing. When executed correctly, checklist testing ensures all recovery plan procedures are correct. The checklist should also account for the resources and personnel assigned to each step and what they should do in case of downtime.

Walk-through Testing

This type of testing reviews the step-by-step parts of an established disaster recovery plan. With this testing, you and your team must review each component to ensure you are all on the same page. Since walk-through testing is like a peer review, and you have many eyes reviewing the plan, you have more opportunities to identify any weaknesses or overlooked details in the DR plan.

Simulation Testing

Simulation testing is like role-playing; you enact your disaster recovery plan within an established disaster scenario. The goal is to mimic a real-world disaster as closely as possible and implement your recovery plan. This ensures you can access any document or information during a disaster.

Parallel Testing

In this type of testing, you will build and use recovery systems that are identical to actual production systems and run them in parallel. Your team will then test with real-world production data and equipment. This testing method gives you a deeper insight into the plan and identifies the changes you need to make for a swift and correct response later.

Full Interruption Testing

This type of test is the most disruptive. In it, you will need to use real production data and equipment and fabricate a disaster to understand how to respond. This test is the most time-consuming type and can affect your business operations. Therefore, it is only done after implementing all the other testing methods.

Recovery Time Is Important

Most people spend more time online shopping, streaming movies and music, or interacting on social media. And if your business is related to any of these fields, you’d want to keep your website up and running constantly. Any downtime or interruption on your website could mean millions in revenue losses. Thus, the time it takes you to recover and fully restore services is vital. If your team is fully prepared and can test for various scenarios, you will be able to act and resolve the issue faster.

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