What is IT Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is an important process within business continuity management (BCM) that focuses on developing a plan of action to recover from a potential internal or external business threat. In other words, disaster recovery is about ensuring that the business infrastructure, systems, and data can all be accessed and/or recovered in the event of a business crisis. A well-planned disaster response enables the business to continue operations in any potentially damaging situation.


Though some disasters cannot be avoided, proper planning can help to ensure that the business is prepared for a disaster and is able to recover its systems, applications, data, and other technology and infrastructure. To create a solid disaster recovery plan, the business must identify its most critical applications, systems, technologies, etc. If an item is identified as critical, that means the business would be unable to operate without it and, therefore, any critical item should be prioritized for a solution or workaround. This is necessary to ensure continuity of operations.

A disaster, in terms of business continuity, includes internal business issues as well as IT outages and system hacks. Because the umbrella of potential threats is so wide, it is important to have a firm understanding of all of the various ways that business could be impacted and to have a recovery plan for each disaster.


Determining your recovery time objective (RTO) is critical to your recovery success. The RTO states how long your business has to get back up and running before serious losses are incurred. This time frame could be anywhere from immediately after an event to days later. Along the same lines, establishing your business’s recovery point objective (RPO) determines which files or processes are most important to recovery first in order to keep the business running with the fewest interruptions.


Though disaster recovery can include a variety of disaster types, IT disaster recovery is one of the top disaster concerns in the 21st century. With files and processes becoming increasingly digital, there are many more problems to be concerned about in addition to the typical natural disasters and general business failures. In the digital space alone, businesses must protect themselves from corrupted data, hackers, malware, ransomware, damaged hardware, internet/connectivity issues, and more.


All IT risks cannot be avoided, but they can be reduced with some of the following methods.

  1. Implementing effective cybersecurity. Cybersecurity will help you protect all of your data and your backup data as well to prevent data losses in the event of an event.
  2. Protecting data. Having employees lock their computers, use secure passwords, and shred sensitive information are all good ways to ensure that your secured information remains secure at all times.
  3. Considering safety hazards. Ensuring that drinks or other sources of water or liquid cannot spill on hardware or that there are no obvious hardware fire hazards is an easy way to protect your physical property. Being aware of location is also important. For instance, if the office space is located in a flood zone, ensuring that physical property is located above the floor level when possible is a good precaution. As a side note, flood insurance is important as well in this scenario.
  4. Ensuring hardware security. In addition to protecting your hardware from physical damage, you also want to protect it from theft by having monitoring and building security as well.
  5. Automate backup processes. Having a backup of your important work and files is incredibly important. For this reason, it is very valuable to have a system and procedure in place that automatically backs up all files periodically throughout the day. This way, data losses would be minimal.
  6. Ensuring effective backup location. In many cases, having a secondary work office or station can be helpful. The secondary office should be located a distance away from the primary office so that both locations aren’t down at once (e.g., from a natural disaster).

Once an event has already occurred, the goal is to use your disaster recovery and business continuity plan to get the business back to running as smoothly as possible. The BCP should include ways to get the business operating, a list of best recovery options with cost, operational effects, and key players, and it should be kept up-to-date and regularly tested to ensure complete accuracy and efficiency.

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