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This article is about business continuity planning. For societal disaster recovery, see emergency management.
For other uses, see DR (disambiguation).

Disaster recovery (DR) involves a set of policies and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natural or human-induced disaster.[1] Disaster recovery focuses on the IT or technology systems supporting critical business functions,[2] as opposed to business continuity, which involves keeping all essential aspects of a business functioning despite significant disruptive events. Disaster recovery is therefore a subset of business continuity.[3]


Disaster recovery developed in the mid- to late 1970s as computer center managers began to recognize the dependence of their organizations on their computer systems. At that time, most systems were batch-oriented mainframes which in many cases could be down for a number of days before significant damage would be done to the organization.[4]

As awareness of the potential business disruption that would follow an IT-related disaster, the disaster recovery industry developed to provide backup computer centers, with Sun Information Systems (which later became Sungard Availability Services) becoming the first major US commercial hot site vendor, established in 1978 in Philadelphia.[5]

During the 1980s and 90s, customer awareness and industry both grew rapidly, driven by the advent of open systems and real-time processing which increased the dependence of organizations on their IT systems. Regulations mandating business continuity and disaster recovery plans for organizations in various sectors of the economy, imposed by the authorities and by business partners, increased the demand and led to the availability of commercial disaster recovery services, including mobile data centers delivered to a suitable recovery location by truck.

With the rapid growth of the Internet through the late 1990s and into the 2000s, organizations of all sizes became further dependent on the continuous availability of their IT systems, with some organizations setting objectives of 2, 3, 4 or 5 nines (99.999%) availability of critical systems.[6] This increasing dependence on IT systems, as well as increased awareness from large-scale disasters such as tsunami, earthquake, flood, and volcanic eruption, spawned disaster recovery-related products and services, ranging from high-availability solutions to hot-site facilities. Improved networking meant critical IT services could be served remotely, hence on-site recovery became less important.

The meteoric rise of cloud computing since 2010 continues that trend: nowadays, it matters even less where computing services are physically served, just so long as the network itself is sufficiently reliable (a separate issue, and less of a concern since modern networks are highly resilient by design). 'Recovery as a Service' (RaaS) is one of the security features or benefits of cloud computing being promoted by the Cloud Security Alliance.[7]

Classification of disasters[edit]

Disasters can be classified into two broad categories. The first is natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. While preventing a natural disaster is very difficult, risk management measures such as avoiding disaster-prone situations and good planning can help. The second category is man made disasters, such as hazardous material spills, infrastructure failure, bio-terrorism, and disastrous IT bugs or failed change implementations. In these instances, surveillance, testing and mitigation planning are invaluable.

Importance of disaster recovery planning[edit]

Recent research supports the idea that implementing a more holistic pre-disaster planning approach is more cost-effective in the long run. Every $1 spent on hazard mitigation(such as a disaster recovery plan)saves society $4 in response and recovery costs.[8]

As IT systems have become increasingly critical to the smooth operation of a company, and arguably the economy as a whole, the importance of ensuring the continued operation of those systems, and their rapid recovery, has increased.[9] For example, of companies that had a major loss of business data, 43% never reopen and 29% close within two years.[10] As a result, preparation for continuation or recovery of systems needs to be taken very seriously. This involves a significant investment of time and money with the aim of ensuring minimal losses in the event of a disruptive event.[11]

Control measures[edit]

Control measures are steps or mechanisms that can reduce or eliminate various threats for organizations. Different types of measures can be included in disaster recovery plan (DRP).

Disaster recovery planning is a subset of a larger process known as business continuity planning and includes planning for resumption of applications, data, hardware, electronic communications (such as networking) and other IT infrastructure. A business continuity plan (BCP) includes planning for non-IT related aspects such as key personnel, facilities, crisis communication and reputation protection, and should refer to the disaster recovery plan (DRP) for IT related infrastructure recovery / continuity.

IT disaster recovery control measures can be classified into the following three types:

  1. Preventive measures - Controls aimed at preventing an event from occurring.
  2. Detective measures - Controls aimed at detecting or discovering unwanted events.
  3. Corrective measures - Controls aimed at correcting or restoring the system after a disaster or an event.

Good disaster recovery plan measures dictate that these three types of controls be documented and exercised regularly using so-called "DR tests".


Prior to selecting a disaster recovery strategy, a disaster recovery planner first refers to their organization's business continuity plan which should indicate the key metrics of recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) for various business processes (such as the process to run payroll, generate an order, etc.). The metrics specified for the business processes are then mapped to the underlying IT systems and infrastructure that support those processes.[12]

Incomplete RTOs and RPOs can quickly derail a disaster recovery plan. Every item in the DR plan requires a defined recovery point and time objective, as failure to create them may lead to significant problems that can extend the disaster’s impact.[13] Once the RTO and RPO metrics have been mapped to IT infrastructure, the DR planner can determine the most suitable recovery strategy for each system. The organization ultimately sets the IT budget and therefore the RTO and RPO metrics need to fit with the available budget. While most business unit heads would like zero data loss and zero time loss, the cost associated with that level of protection may make the desired high availability solutions impractical. A cost-benefit analysis often dictates which disaster recovery measures are implemented.

Some of the most common strategies for data protection include:

  • backups made to tape and sent off-site at regular intervals
  • backups made to disk on-site and automatically copied to off-site disk, or made directly to off-site disk
  • replication of data to an off-site location, which overcomes the need to restore the data (only the systems then need to be restored or synchronized), often making use of storage area network (SAN) technology
  • Private Cloud solutions which replicate the management data (VMs, Templates and disks) into the storage domains which are part of the private cloud setup. These management data are configured as an xml representation called OVF (Open Virtualization Format), and can be restored from the Data Base once a disaster occurs.
    For example Disaster Recovery with oVirt[14]
  • Hybrid Cloud solutions that replicate both on-site and to off-site data centers. These solutions provide the ability to instantly fail-over to local on-site hardware, but in the event of a physical disaster, servers can be brought up in the cloud data centers as well. Examples include Quorom,[15] rCloud from Persistent Systems[16] or EverSafe.[17][18]
  • the use of high availability systems which keep both the data and system replicated off-site, enabling continuous access to systems and data, even after a disaster (often associated with cloud storage)[19]

In many cases, an organization may elect to use an outsourced disaster recovery provider to provide a stand-by site and systems rather than using their own remote facilities, increasingly via cloud computing.

In addition to preparing for the need to recover systems, organizations also implement precautionary measures with the objective of preventing a disaster in the first place. These may include:

  • local mirrors of systems and/or data and use of disk protection technology such as RAID
  • surge protectors — to minimize the effect of power surges on delicate electronic equipment
  • use of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and/or backup generator to keep systems going in the event of a power failure
  • fire prevention/mitigation systems such as alarms and fire extinguishers
  • anti-virus software and other security measures

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Disaster recovery. Computer Business Research... Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  2. ^ Systems and Operations Continuity: Disaster Recovery. Georgetown University. University Information Services. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  3. ^ Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, version 2011. IBM. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  4. ^ A Brief History of Disaster Recovery, safetynet247.co.uk
  5. ^ SunGard Data Systems: Company history, fundinguniverse.com
  6. ^ Posts Tagged Springboard Research: The Changing Definition of Mission-Critical. BottomLineIT. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  7. ^ SecaaS Category 9 // BCDR Implementation Guidance CSA, retrieved 14 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Post-Disaster Recovery Planning Forum: How-To Guide" (PDF). University of Oregon's Community Service Center. Retrieved 2013-05-23.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  9. ^ "The 3R’s of Disaster Recovery". Data Recovery Hospital. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Business continuity statistics: where myth meets fact. Continuity Central. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  11. ^ "IT Disaster Recovery Plan". FEMA. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Gregory, Peter. CISA Certified Information Systems Auditor All-in-One Exam Guide, 2009. ISBN 978-0-07-148755-9. Page 480.
  13. ^ "Five Mistakes That Can Kill a Disaster Recovery Plan". Dell.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  14. ^ Import Storage Domain feature handling Disaster Recovery in oVirt
  15. ^ Site to site business continuity Site to Site replication solutions
  16. ^ Instant Disaster Recovery supporting all Backup Software
  17. ^ Hybrid Cloud Business Continuity Hybrid Cloud Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solutions
  18. ^ Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
  19. ^ Brandon, John (23 June 2011). "How to Use the Cloud as a Disaster Recovery Strategy". Inc. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • ISO/IEC 22301:2012 (replacement of BS-25999:2007) Societal Security - Business Continuity Management Systems - Requirements
  • ISO/IEC 27001:2013 (replacement of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 [formerly BS 7799-2:2002]) Information Security Management System
  • ISO/IEC 27002:2013 (replacement of ISO/IEC 27002:2005 [renumbered ISO17799:2005]) Information Security Management - Code of Practice
  • ISO/IEC 22399:2007 Guideline for incident preparedness and operational continuity management
  • ISO/IEC 24762:2008 Guidelines for information and communications technology disaster recovery services
  • IWA 5:2006 Emergency Preparedness—British Standards Institution --
  • BS 25999-1:2006 Business Continuity Management Part 1: Code of practice
  • BS 25999-2:2007 Business Continuity Management Part 2: Specification
  • BS 25777:2008 Information and communications technology continuity management - Code of practice—Others --
  • "A Guide to Business Continuity Planning" by James C. Barnes
  • "Business Continuity Planning", A Step-by-Step Guide with Planning Forms on CDROM by Kenneth L Fulmer
  • "Disaster Survival Planning: A Practical Guide for Businesses" by Judy Bell
  • ICE Data Management (In Case of Emergency) made simple - by MyriadOptima.com
  • Harney, J.(2004). Business continuity and disaster recovery: Back up or shut down.
  • AIIM E-Doc Magazine, 18(4), 42-48.
  • Dimattia, S. (November 15, 2001).Planning for Continuity. Library Journal,32-34.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaster_recovery — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

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