Disaster recovery testing with Online TechA key component of a successful disaster recovery plan is testing it. Testing once a year is usually not enough, and you’ll want to make sure you can run a proper failover when you need to.

A failover is when you move from one environment to another. In disaster recovery terminology, it’s used to mean the transfer from a production environment to a recovery one.

A failover is a huge process, and there are many complications that can arise from it. It’s not just the data you need to move over, it’s your whole environment. That means all of the applications that host it, any replication products, and making sure everything is running from both ends. The process can take hours and must be monitored carefully. That’s why it’s so important to run a couple of test failovers to make sure everything is working properly. The last thing you need is to find out in the middle of an emergency that your systems didn’t transfer correctly.

Why should you run a test failover?

Running a test failure has many benefits. It allows you to configure everything such as your user access and network settings how you would like, and it makes sure the configurations you have are actually working. Any problems you encounter during your test can be resolved without harming your production site.

It’s likely that during a real disaster, you won’t be running on a full stack, only mission-critical systems and applications. It’s imperative that these work beforehand so you can spend your time worrying about other things during a real emergency.

What happens in a live failover?

If you do need to initiate a live failover, you may be asked if this is something you really want to do. It’s not uncommon to accidentally select the wrong option when running a failover, and this is a security measure to protect you against unintended harm to your production site. If you’ve outsourced your DR to a third party provider, they should be alerted to a live failover attempt and be ready to assist you as needed.

It’s just as important to test your systems as it is to have recovery for them in the first place. Make sure you complete a few test failovers before the real thing happens so you don’t trust to blind luck to save you. It’s never pleasant to think about, but adopt the motto of the Boy Scouts, “Always be prepared.” Knowing what to expect in the failover process will help you tackle a real disaster that much better.