Types of Recovery Plan Tests

Exercise and testing can consist of talking through recovery actions or physically recovering things. Testing can be discussion-based or operations-based. There are several different kinds of testing each categorized by their complexity involving set-up and number of participants needed.

  • Standalone Testing – the person who authored the plan reviews it with someone that has a similar technical background (i.e. manager, backup support, etc.) It is useful for catching omissions in the plan and can also provide insight into the process for the backup support person.
  • Integrated System Testing – occurs when all components of an IT system are recovered from scratch. This type of testing can reveal many of the interfaces between IT systems required to recover a specific IT function.
  • Table-Top Exercises – these simulate a disaster but the response to it is conducted in a conference room. A disaster scenario is provided and participants work through the problem. Similar to walk-through testing except the team responds to an incident scenario.
  • Simulation Exercises – requires taking a table-top exercise one step further and includes the actual recovery site and equipment. A simulation is the closest that a company can come to experiencing (and learning from) a real disaster. Simulations provide numerous dimensions that most recovery plan tests never explore. They are time consuming and expensive to conduct.


Michael Herrera is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MHA. In his role, Michael provides global leadership to the entire set of industry practices and horizontal capabilities within MHA. Under his leadership, MHA has become a leading provider of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services to organizations on a global level. He is also the founder of BCMMETRICS, a leading cloud based tool designed to assess business continuity compliance and residual risk. Michael is a well-known and sought after speaker on Business Continuity issues at local and national contingency planner chapter meetings and conferences. Prior to founding MHA, he was a Regional VP for Bank of America, where he was responsible for Business Continuity across the southwest region.

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