A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented process or set of procedures to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster.[1] Such a plan, ordinarily documented in written form, specifies procedures an organization is to follow in the event of a disaster. It is “a comprehensive statement of consistent actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.”[2] The disaster could be natural, environmental or man-made. Man-made disasters could be intentional (for example, an act of a terrorist) or unintentional (that is, accidental, such as the breakage of a man-made dam).

A disaster recovery plan is NOT the same as a business continuity plan.

According to the SANS institute, the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a comprehensive organizational plan that includes the disaster recovery plan. The Institute further states that a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) consists of the five component plans:

  • Business Resumption Plan
  • Occupant Emergency Plan
  • Continuity of Operations Plan
  • Incident Management Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Plan

Disaster Recovery Institute International states that disaster recovery is the area of business continuity that deals with technology recovery as opposed to the recovery of business operations.

However, there are three basic strategies that feature in all disaster recovery plans: (1) preventive measures, (2) detective measures, and (3) corrective measures.

Preventive measures will try to prevent a disaster from occurring. These measures seek to identify and reduce risks. They are designed to mitigate or prevent an event from happening. These measures may include keeping data backed up and off site, using surge protectors, installing generators and conducting routine inspections.

Detective measures are taken to discover the presence of any unwanted events within the IT infrastructure. Their aim is to uncover new potential threats. They may detect or uncover unwanted events. These measures include installing fire alarms, using up-to-date antivirus software, holding employee training sessions, and installing server and network monitoring software.

Corrective measures are aimed to restore a system after a disaster or otherwise unwanted event takes place. These measures focus on fixing or restoring the systems after a disaster. Corrective measures may include keeping critical documents in the Disaster Recovery Plan or securing proper insurance policies, after a “lessons learned” brainstorming session.

A disaster recovery plan must answer at least three basic questions: (1) what is its objective and purpose, (2) who will be the people or teams who will be responsible in case any disruptions happen, and (3) what will these people do (the procedures to be followed) when the disaster strikes.