Workstation Disaster Recovery: Why and what should you care about

Nick Cavalancia

You already prepare for disasters. In fact, your customers expect it of you. You have plans in place to rebuild servers, network infrastructure, and critical data, right? If you’re really on top of things, you have a plan for both natural disasters (such as earthquakes, floods, blizzards, landslides, lightning, and more) as well as man-made disasters (such as power failures, hazardous material spills, fire, and civil unrest), both of which can cause displacement from the business property or damage to a business.

Workstation-RecoveryLet’s play your plan forward just a bit. A disaster strikes that impacts the customer’s entire building, you swoop in to save the day, execute your disaster plan and you get every bit of the network, servers and data back up and running.

Then the grasshoppers begin to chirp.

Why? Because no one thought to include workstations in the disaster recovery plan so no employees are connecting to said servers and getting any work done.


Without workstations in the DR plan, your customer’s business can’t get back to being operational.

Now we know why you need to care about workstations. So what do you need to recover?

There are three basic parts to every workstation that should be considered when thinking about disaster recovery: The operating system, the applications and the personal settings.

The OS is an easy one – it’s kind of necessary. But keep in mind you need to recover not just a copy of the OS, but an updated copy to ensure stability and security. Applications make things a bit tougher, because the conversation shifts from something that could be standardized across every desktop and laptop in a business to semi-unique needs of individuals and departments. Lastly, the most unique aspect of the workstation are the personal settings – all the drive mappings, printers, custom application settings, and documents that, in sum, make a user productive.

Do I have to recover all of that?

Great question. You either need to check your already established SLA, or speak with your customer to determine what’s important to them. Many MSPs have varying levels of service when it comes to DR as a service. Response times, support days and hours, even DR testing all change with the agreed upon SLA.

Whether you are going to recover every workstation back to its last known state or just put a fresh copy of Windows and Office on every machine, it’s obvious workstations need to be a part of the business continuity plan and, therefore, your recovery offering.

In the 2nd part of this 3-part series, we’ll discuss the ways you can recover workstations and some of the pros and cons of each.

To get a more in-depth look at the opportunity of offering workstation disaster recovery, read the whitepaper, Workstations: Disaster Recovery’s untouched opportunity.

Are workstations part of your Disaster Recovery plan? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below!