One of the challenges in effective disaster recovery is being sufficiently well prepared. The temptation as surveys of organizations have shown is to assume that if a disaster does happen, then human resourcefulness and an effort of 110% will put things back to “right”. The problem with this attitude is that not everybody in an organisation will necessarily have this “gung-ho” attitude. While heroes are fighting the fires, other people stand idle and unproductive. Worse still, a syndrome starts with assumptions that disasters happen regularly, overall performance will always be degraded, and whether individual performance is good, bad or indifferent will not affect the general outcome. DR training can help improve the situation. But can you really train for things that haven’t yet happened?

Some lateral thinking suggests that instead of training in how to tackle future problems, you could also try to avoid them in the first place. Indeed, the best disaster recoveries are the ones you never have to do, the ones where disasters didn’t happen – because you took corresponding precautions or implemented preventative countermeasures. It’s the first part of any DR plan and an essential part of any DR training. Prevention is better than cure. Of course, unavoidable freak floods and terrorist scares with denial of employee access can still happen. However, for many enterprises, the main risk comes from IT installations where disaster recovery can even be automatically and affordably built into even modestly-dimensioned systems for small and medium businesses.

Training in preventive measures still needs to be completed with detective measures for uncovering unwanted events and corrective measures for restoring systems to working order after outages. That’s what makes DR training complete. It’s something that might have benefited a certain Captain E J Smith, who in 1907 described his forty or so years at sea as being “uneventful”; and on April 14, 1912, hit an iceberg in the ship of which he was in command – the HMS Titanic. Who knows, perhaps proper DR training in prevention, detection and correction at that time could have changed the course of history.