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You’ve heard the downtime horror stories. You’ve seen the statistics from major research firms like Gartner, which found that businesses lose an average of $5,600 every minute they can’t access their mission-critical data and systems. You know your organization needs a plan for disaster recovery. It’s the only way to be confident that if an incident ever takes your IT infrastructure offline — a power outage, a cyberattack, an employee’s innocent mistake — your staff can quickly regroup, restore your systems, and resume business operations.

But whichever of the many DR options you choose, including Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service, you’ll need to put it to the test. Just because you’ve deployed a disaster recovery environment doesn’t mean it will work when you need it most. Here are a few reasons you should periodically test your DR environment.

1. What if there are weaknesses in the system?

Let’s say you’ve implemented your DRaaS solution. You’ve specified which types of data your team will be able to recover at various RTOs and RPOs. You’ve activated the appropriate number of backup servers and established your failover strategy. Everything should be ready to go — in theory.

But just as financial regulators use stress tests to gauge how well banks would hold up under real-world adverse conditions, you need to put your DR infrastructure under stress as well. Does a particular operating system in your environment conflict with a given application or virtual machine? Do you have corrupt files on the network that could disrupt recovery during a failover?

Force your DR solution to prove it can restore your company’s digital assets in the timeframe you need — now, before you’re facing an actual disaster.

This means you’ll want a DRaaS solution that allows you to check the health of your VMs and replication jobs at any time, and easily run tests of your environment to identify potential gaps in data replications or other technical weaknesses in your DR environment.

2. What if your DR solution isn’t keeping pace with your IT environment?

Disaster recovery isn’t a solution you can set and forget. Every time your company’s digital environment changes, those updates could negatively affect the solution’s ability to recover your data and systems in the timeframe you demand.

Consider how often your organization adds new applications, updates operating systems, and introduces new endpoint devices to your digital environment. If any of those adjustments are going to put a strain on disaster recovery, you need to know about it ahead of time.

Again, this means you’ll want a DRaaS solution that makes it easy to monitor the health of your virtual machines and test how successfully the system would perform at recovering your systems to your specified backup environment if your company were facing an actual emergency.

3. What if you haven’t accounted for all of the steps needed to recovery after a disaster?

An effective disaster recovery program involves much more than restoring your company’s mission-critical systems to the right backup environments. It also requires establishing a plan to make sure everyone in your organization knows how to access your corporate data and resume operations — from home, a secondary office location, or wherever the plan calls for them to be.

Which means in addition to regularly testing the technological component of your DR solution, you’ll also need to develop training for your staff, so they’ll know where to go and what to do in order to get the company up and running quickly after a disaster. You’ll also want to make sure everyone has the tools and equipment they need to continue working through a disaster. And finally, you’ll want to run periodic disaster drills, to make sure everyone in the organization knows their role and is able to execute in the right timeframe.

The only way to know if your disaster recovery solution will perform as needed in a real-world incident is if you put it to the test. For help establishing your own DR testing plan, speak with an award-winning DRaaS solution provider

For a step-by-step guide on how to properly test your own DR solution, read the free OffsiteDataSync-Veeam eBook: “Putting Disaster Recovery to the Test.”

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