How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan in 5 Simple Steps

Disaster Recovery Plan Template: If you’re looking for the essential steps to secure your business against unexpected disruptions, you’ve landed in the right place. Here’s a streamlined overview to get started:

  1. Identify Critical Operations – Pinpoint essential business functions and processes.
  2. Assess Your Risks – Understand potential threats, from cyberattacks to natural disasters.
  3. Plan for Backup and Recovery – Determine methods for data backup and system restoration.
  4. Establish Communications – Set protocols for emergency communications within the organization and with external stakeholders.
  5. Test and Update – Regularly test the plan and update it to address new vulnerabilities or changes in business operations.

Every business, small or large, faces threats that can disrupt operations and cause significant financial losses. Events such as cyberattacks, natural disasters, or even human errors underline the importance of having a robust disaster recovery plan. This strategic document not only aims to minimize the impact and downtime during disruptions but also ensures a quick return to normalcy, safeguarding your business’s continuity and reputation.

Cybersecurity plays a crucial role in disaster recovery as most modern businesses rely heavily on digital processes and data storage. Ensuring that protective measures are in place to counteract cyber threats is integral to any disaster recovery strategy. Only with a comprehensive plan that incorporates strict cybersecurity measures can an organization hope to deflect the full impact of an incident.

Infographic showing the key components of a disaster recovery plan, including risk assessment, business impact analysis, recovery strategy, and emergency response procedures - disaster recovery plan template infographic pillar-4-steps

Define Plan Objectives and Scope

When creating a disaster recovery plan template, it’s vital to start with clear objectives and a defined scope. This foundation will guide all subsequent steps, ensuring that the plan addresses the specific needs and vulnerabilities of your organization.


The primary objectives of a disaster recovery plan should include:
Protecting employee safety and wellbeing during a disaster.
Minimizing data loss by securing critical data across all departments.
Ensuring business continuity by restoring operational capabilities as quickly as possible.
Communicating effectively with all stakeholders during and after a disaster.

These objectives aim to reduce downtime and financial loss while safeguarding your organization’s reputation and compliance.


The scope of the plan details which aspects of your organization it covers. This includes:
All digital and physical assets of the company.
Critical business departments and functions.
Key personnel involved in disaster recovery.
Technology and data essential for daily operations.

By defining the scope, you ensure that the plan is comprehensive and leaves no critical area unprotected.

7 technology shifts for 2024

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment involves identifying potential threats that could significantly impact your organization. These threats can be natural or human-induced:

  • Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, pose significant risks depending on your geographic location.
  • Human-induced disasters include cyber attacks, data breaches, and physical security threats.

Evaluating these risks helps prioritize them based on their likelihood and potential impact on your business.

Business Impact Analysis

Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is crucial for understanding the potential effects of disruptions on your business operations. This analysis will help you identify:
Critical operations that generate revenue or are essential for customer service.
Financial impact of losing specific business functions.
Recovery priorities for business functions and processes.

A thorough BIA ensures that your disaster recovery plan focuses resources where they are most needed, helping to minimize both downtime and financial loss.

By setting clear objectives, defining a comprehensive scope, conducting detailed risk assessments, and understanding the business impacts of potential disasters, your organization can develop a robust disaster recovery plan template. Cyber Command emphasizes the importance of these steps as they form the backbone of effective disaster recovery strategies, ensuring that your business can withstand and quickly recover from disruptive events.

Identify Critical Needs

When creating a disaster recovery plan template, identifying critical needs is essential. This ensures that during a crisis, your organization focuses on key areas that keep the business running. Let’s break these needs into four categories: People, Site, Systems, and Processes.


The foundation of any disaster recovery plan is the people who will execute it. It’s crucial to:

  • Identify Emergency Contacts: List all critical personnel and their contact information. This list should include primary and secondary contacts to ensure redundancy.
  • Define Roles: Clearly outline who is responsible for what during a disaster. This includes the disaster recovery team, IT staff, and any other critical roles such as communication officers.


The physical or virtual location from which your business will operate during a disaster is your next concern.

  • Location Analysis: Evaluate the suitability of your current location for surviving a disaster. Consider risks like flooding, earthquakes, or other region-specific threats.
  • Alternative Sites: Identify and set up alternative sites. These can be other physical locations or cloud-based options, depending on the nature of your business. Ensure these sites are ready to operate at a moment’s notice.


Your IT infrastructure is critical to business operations; thus, it needs special attention.

  • IT Infrastructure: Document all critical IT hardware and software. This includes servers, networks, and essential applications.
  • Critical Applications: Identify applications that are vital for day-to-day operations. Ensure these applications can be quickly restored and are included in regular backup schedules.


Operational workflows and communication plans form the backbone of your disaster recovery efforts.

  • Operational Workflows: Map out key business processes and how they will be managed during a disaster. This includes accessing remote systems, data entry protocols, and continuity practices.
  • Communication Plans: Develop clear communication strategies to keep in touch with employees, stakeholders, and customers. This plan should include backup communication methods in case standard channels fail.

By addressing these critical needs — People, Site, Systems, and Processes — your disaster recovery plan template becomes a comprehensive guide that prepares your organization for unexpected disruptions. This preparation not only minimizes potential operational and financial impacts but also ensures a quicker return to normalcy.

Continuing forward, the next step involves setting specific recovery objectives to further solidify your disaster recovery strategy.

Set Disaster Recovery Plan Objectives

Setting clear, actionable objectives is crucial for developing an effective disaster recovery plan. These objectives ensure that everyone in the organization understands what needs to be achieved in case of a disaster.

Collect Data

Inventory, Software Resources, Hardware Products

The first step in setting your disaster recovery objectives is to collect detailed data about your organization’s resources. This includes:

  • Inventory: List all physical assets such as computers, servers, and other critical equipment. Knowing what you have is essential for understanding what needs to be replaced or recovered after a disaster.
  • Software Resources: Document all critical software applications and operating systems. Use commands like Display Software Resources (DSPSFWRSC) to pull detailed reports.
  • Hardware Products: Similarly, document all hardware using commands such as Work with Hardware Products (WRKHDWPRD). Include details like model numbers, serial numbers, and configurations.

This comprehensive data collection helps in assessing the impact of a disaster on your business operations and is crucial for the next steps in the recovery process.

Create the Written Document

Template Use, Documentation, California Preservation Program, Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia

Once the data is collected, the next step is to document the disaster recovery plan. Using a disaster recovery plan template can simplify this process. Templates provide a structured way to organize information, making sure you cover all necessary aspects of disaster recovery.

  • Template Use: Choose a template that fits the size and complexity of your organization. Whether it’s a simple template for small businesses or a more detailed one for larger enterprises, the right template can make a significant difference.
  • Documentation: Clearly write down the recovery procedures, roles, and responsibilities. Documenting recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) is crucial. RTO refers to the maximum acceptable time systems can be down, while RPO defines the maximum acceptable amount of data loss measured in time.

For instance, if your RPO is one hour, you need systems in place to back up data at least every hour. This ensures minimal data loss in case of a disaster.

  • Leverage Existing Resources: Utilize resources such as the guidelines from the California Preservation Program and the Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan by the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia. These resources provide proven strategies and insights into disaster recovery planning.

By carefully setting your recovery objectives and meticulously documenting your plan, you ensure a robust strategy that minimizes downtime and accelerates recovery, keeping your operations resilient in the face of disruptions.

Continuing with the development of your disaster recovery plan, the next crucial steps involve testing the plan to identify any gaps and revising it regularly to keep it up-to-date with changing business needs and technologies.

Test and Revise the Plan

Testing and revising your disaster recovery plan is not just a good practice; it’s a necessity to ensure your business can recover swiftly and efficiently from any disaster. Let’s dive into how to effectively test and continuously improve your plan.

Emergency Response Procedures

Scenario Testing: Simulate various disaster scenarios to evaluate how well your emergency response procedures work. For instance, conduct a fire drill or simulate a natural disaster situation. Observe how quickly and effectively your team can evacuate, communicate, and execute critical tasks under pressure.

Revision Schedule: After each test, gather your team to discuss what went well and what didn’t. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments to your procedures. Plan to review and update these procedures at least annually or whenever there are significant changes to your operations or infrastructure.

Backup Operations Procedures

Data Backup: Regularly test your data backup systems to ensure that they are functioning correctly. This includes verifying that backups are complete, data integrity is maintained, and recovery is quick. For example, restore a set of data from backup to check if it’s usable and intact.

Cloud Storage: Utilize cloud storage solutions as part of your backup strategy. They offer scalability, reliability, and off-site security. Test the accessibility and recovery time of your cloud-stored data regularly to confirm that you can rely on it during a disaster.

Recovery Actions Procedures

System Restoration: Periodically test the restoration of your systems from backups to ensure that they can be brought back online quickly and effectively. This includes testing on both primary and backup hardware to identify potential issues in your restoration process.

Mobile Site Setup: If your disaster recovery plan includes a mobile site setup, conduct tests to set up and operate from this alternative location. Ensure that connectivity, system configurations, and operational capabilities are tested and confirmed to work as expected.

By following these steps and regularly revising your disaster recovery plan, you maintain readiness for any disaster. This proactive approach not only minimizes potential damage and downtime but also ensures that your business can continue operations smoothly and efficiently after an unexpected event.

Frequently Asked Questions about Disaster Recovery Planning

What are the 4 C’s of disaster recovery?

The four C’s of disaster recovery are crucial components that ensure a comprehensive and effective plan. Let’s break them down:

  • Communication: This involves setting up efficient and reliable channels to share information before, during, and after a disaster. It ensures everyone knows what’s happening and what they need to do.

  • Coordination: This means aligning your disaster recovery activities with other parts of the organization or even with external organizations. It helps to ensure that everyone is working towards the same recovery objectives without duplicating efforts or creating conflicts.

  • Collaboration: Working together with internal and external groups can provide additional resources and ideas that improve your disaster recovery efforts. It often involves sharing responsibilities and pooling resources to address recovery challenges more effectively.

  • Cooperation: This involves agreeing on common strategies and goals with other departments or organizations. Cooperation is essential for pooling resources and information, which can be critical in a disaster situation.

How often should a disaster recovery plan be tested?

Regular testing of your disaster recovery plan is essential. It’s recommended to test the plan at least once a year, but more frequent tests may be necessary if there are significant changes in your business operations, technology, or staffing. These tests can range from tabletop exercises to full-scale simulations and help identify any gaps or weaknesses in your plan.

What is the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity?

While both concepts aim to minimize business disruptions, their scopes are different:

  • Disaster Recovery Focus: This is specifically about getting your critical IT systems and operations back up and running after a disaster. It’s like the emergency repair service that helps restore essential functions and data access.

  • Business Continuity Scope: This is broader and encompasses keeping all essential aspects of a business functioning during and after a disaster. It’s not just about IT but includes maintaining customer services, manufacturing, deliveries, and overall business operations.

By understanding these key areas, businesses can better prepare for disruptions and ensure a swift recovery, maintaining operations and minimizing impact on customers and revenue.


Creating and maintaining a disaster recovery plan is not a one-time task but an ongoing journey that requires dedication, foresight, and continuous improvement. At Cyber Command, we understand that the digital landscape is constantly evolving, with new threats and technologies emerging that can impact your IT infrastructure and business operations.

Continuous Improvement

The key to a robust disaster recovery plan is continuous improvement. This means not just setting up a plan and forgetting about it, but actively maintaining and enhancing it to adapt to new challenges. Here’s how we recommend you keep your disaster recovery plan up to date:

  • Regular Testing: Conduct regular tests to simulate disaster scenarios. This helps ensure that your plan works effectively and allows you to identify and rectify any weaknesses. It’s crucial to make these tests as realistic as possible to prepare for actual disaster conditions.

  • Feedback Loops: After each test or real-life application of the disaster recovery plan, gather feedback from all participants. This feedback is invaluable for making necessary adjustments and improving the plan. Every test or actual disaster is a learning opportunity.

  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest cybersecurity threats and recovery technologies. Incorporate new findings and best practices into your disaster recovery strategy to ensure it remains effective against the most current risks.

Cyber Command Support

At Cyber Command, we are committed to helping you ensure that your disaster recovery plan not only meets but exceeds industry standards. Our experts are dedicated to providing you with the tools, knowledge, and support needed to protect your critical systems and data.

We offer tailored support to help you develop and refine your disaster recovery strategies, ensuring they are comprehensive and aligned with your specific business needs. Our team is here to guide you through every step of the disaster recovery planning process, from initial design to regular updates.

In conclusion, an effective disaster recovery plan is dynamic and adaptable. With Cyber Command by your side, you can confidently face any challenges that come your way, knowing that your business is prepared to recover quickly and efficiently from any disaster. Stay proactive, stay informed, and keep improving your disaster recovery strategies to safeguard the continuity and resilience of your business.