A thought about disaster recovery planning

November 11, 2006

Disaster recovery planning is famously difficult, and not just because it's a hard subject. In fact there seems to be a kind of repulsion field that makes people either shy away from thinking about it or dismiss it as something that they can't do anything about anyways. (The latter is the 'if we have a serious fire the organization's dead anyways, so why worry about the backups?' mindset.)

I've come to think that one significant reason for this is that when you plan realistically, you wind up with a list of disasters that you are deliberately and consciously not going to be able to recover from. The problem with this is that choosing to lose data and systems in some circumstances never sits very well with people, sysadmins especially; we feel that our job is to save data, not to callously throw it away because we didn't want to try hard enough.

However, if you don't tackle the issue, you're not choosing to lose data in cold blood, you're losing data because you never thought about the problem. It's a lot easier to contemplate losing data through ignorance than through apparent choice.

(And even if we accept that we can't do anything, actually thinking about it makes us feel helpless, which people generally dislike.)

Written on 11 November 2006.
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Last modified: Sat Nov 11 00:32:51 2006
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