It does not matter how good your disaster recovery plan is, or even how good and advanced your data backup systems are (data recovery software and hardware alike). This instance may seem a little extreme, but disaster recovery is so important that the key metric is simple: either your procedures work as intended, or they don’t. Finding out how well your data recovery software works to restore your data, is something you need to do before you need them. As it is with many other complex procedures, disaster recovery testing is divided into phases, in this case into three main validation, testing and deployment.
This part of the process depends only on finding the answers to two questions:
– Do the requirements you have for your data recovery software / hardware system represent your business requirements correctly?
– Can you prove that your data recovery software / hardware system actually meets your company’s requirements?
As its name implies, validation is mostly about proving that your disaster recovery design is correct and complete. You might have a great disaster recovery plan, newest and fastest data recovery software and still, it may not meet some of your business requirements.
During this phase actual testing takes place. There are two main methods of testing unit and integration testing. The first one concentrates on testing a single backup station (data recovery software, backup drives) at a time, while the second one tests the workings of the whole system. This may seem like an unnecessary distinction, but it’s very important first test will tell you things such as whether a particular server’s tape drive works properly, and integration testing will show whether you can successfully take a tape that this drive wrote, move it to another machine, and use data recovery software there to rebuild your information on a different machine.
Here you finally execute your plan. This phase shows if there is any need for modifications, what to improve; It allows evaluating the current disaster recovery, as well as summarizing all tests results. This is, however usually not the end of testing. Post-deployment testing is a great way to find settings or procedures that may have slipped through the cracks.
This description may make testing sound much more complicated than you’d expect. Testing your company disaster recovery plan can certainly be a time-consuming process; even so, validation, testing, and deployment are absolutely necessary to make sure that the data recovery software will not fail at that critical moment.