Testing before, during, and after a disaster recovery plan has been implemented is necessary to prove its
effectiveness – it is also a requirement of regulatory agencies. However, time decimates the effectiveness
of a disaster recovery plan so that it is rendered inadequate to implement in times of disaster. Some
reasons that may cause a disaster recovery plan to be less effective are environmental changes (such as the
development of new products, policies and procedures), critical equipment changes, staffs losing interest
for the critical fraction of the plan, and organizational personnel turnover.
The benefits of testing a disaster recovery plan include: determination of the feasibility of any recovery
process, verification of backup facilities compatibility, ensuring adequacy of procedures from recovery
planners, and identification of deficiencies in existing procedures. Testing also serves as a training ground
for recovery managers and members as far as providing a mechanism for updating and maintenance of the
recovery plan. As a fractional process of a recovery plan, training in special and critical skills that may be
required during a disaster is significant to assure the sufficient implementation of the plan. This training is
inclusive of fire extinguishing efforts, use of emergency breathing equipment, evacuation of people and
sensitive resources, proper access to emergency communication systems, and usage of shutdown
procedures for gas, water, equipment and electricity.
There are several types of testing which an organization can perform, including a structured walk-through
testing, a checklist testing, a simulation testing, a parallel testing, and also full interruption testing. Also, the
legitimacy of any test will vary upon the factors such as the physical size of the installation, level of service
required by users, number of locations involved, organizational sensitivity to data processing, acceptable
time for contingency processing and recovery, and cost of testing.