The OGO Blog

Disaster Recovery Test vs. Disaster Recovery Exercise

Disaster recovery examples for credit unions from ongoing operations

If you don’t believe that buildings burn and planes crash, then you’ve found yourself in a strange place. This is a disaster recovery blog! However, if a key part of your job is to plan for the worst—even though it probably won’t happen—then read on.

We like to say that people who don’t do disaster recovery tests should never run disaster recovery exercises. Let’s see why.

DR Test vs DR Exercise

If disaster recovery were a sport, the disaster recovery test would be practice, training, and drills. A disaster recovery exercise would be a full scrimmage.

Disaster recovery testing is vital to making sure any disaster recovery program is working and appropriately updated. The test itself can be quite extensive and should cover multiple variables:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Data restoration
  • Equipment recovery
  • Communication failover

It may look simple, but it’s not. In reality, disaster recovery testing is much more complicated. Fortunately, we also provide a complete rundown of what should be included in a disaster recovery test, table top test, etc.

A disaster recovery exercise isn’t a test at all—it’s the real deal. In an exercise, something critical occurs that requires you to pull out the plan and activate it. You might need to recover data, go to your hot site, enact your crisis management plan, or otherwise disrupt your business as usual.

What can you learn from a Disaster Recovery Exercise?

In our opinion, Disaster Recovery Exercises are great opportunities to get real world experience. Here are a couple of tips on what to do during your exercise to make sure you maximize the benefits.

  • Use your disaster recovery or business continuity plan
  • Take notes throughout the event on what works well and what doesn’t
  • Appoint an observer or third party to watch and take notes
  • Conduct a postmortem on the event and ask lots of questions like, “What could we have done better?” or “What would have happened if…?”
  • Write-up a formal review of the event, including lessons learned, things to change, impact etc.

A disaster recovery exercise is a great way to test your plan, make adjustments, and improve your organization’s ability to respond to future events.

What Not to Do in a Disaster Recovery Exercise:

There are a number of lessons learned from past disaster recovery exercises that can improve how your organization handles one. Below is a list of additional articles that we have written on this topic that may be helpful to reference.

Here are five reasons your disaster recovery plan might fail
An article on making sure you don’t mess up direct deposit in an event
Learn what not to do with crisis management planning based on Lance Armstrong
What you should do to keep share draft processing works in an event

Related Content:

Would you like more information on how to perform a risk assessment or conduct a business impact analysis? If so, please fill out the form below for more information.

You may also be interested in this related content:

Top 5 Disaster Recovery Testing Issues

How Often Should I Test My Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disaster Test Scenarios for Credit Unions

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