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What is the difference between Disaster Recovery and Backups?

Katie Taylor


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Disaster Recovery

A robust IT strategy should aim to minimise the impact of a potential technology failure. In the event of a failure, you should look to your disaster recovery (DR) plan to reduce downtime and get your business operating again, as soon as possible.

What is the difference between disaster recovery and backups?

Backups do form a significant part of disaster recovery, but they are only part of the puzzle.

Backups are the duplication of your business data and systems into a secondary source. In the event of an accident such as a fire or lost equipment, backed-up data can provide a vital lifeline to help resume operations. However, there is a big difference between maintaining backups and having a dedicated disaster recovery plan.

Essentially, backups do not constitute the full plan – they’re a tool that works with the DR plan to ensure business continuity and manage risk. A solid DR plan includes all actions you need to take before, during, and after a catastrophe to protect your organisation and return it to normal function.

What’s in a disaster recovery plan?

A complete disaster recovery plan covers essential areas, including the following:

Recovery time objective (RTO): The amount of time you have to recover before your business suffers significant financial losses. Calculating RTO helps you know the limit for when you absolutely must have at least basic processes functioning again.

Recovery point objective (RPO): The greatest amount of data the organisation can afford to lose.

Workload prioritisation: Differentiating which processes need to be prioritised to get normal operations back as soon as possible.

Failover: Automatic offloading of tasks to a pre-selected backup system for seamless operations.

Disaster recovery testing: Practice scenarios to evaluate any weaknesses in your DR.

Why your business needs disaster recovery

Negative outcomes of a data breach or other downtime-inducing disaster include financial difficulties, compliance penalties, tarnished brand image, and loss of custom. But a DR plan can significantly reduce the amount of downtime you suffer, as well as the risk of going offline in the first place.
A well-defined DR plan can:

  • Limit financial loss through the speedy recovery of your systems.
  • Reduce downtime by following pre-established recovery procedures
  • Help you retain customers through fast recovery and a communication plan to promptly address concerns

Some industries have a more urgent need for eliminating downtime than others – any business that relies on time-sensitive digital services. Some notable industries where every second of downtime is critical include:

  • Financial institutions
  • Public organisations
  • Health organisations
  • Data centres

Leveraging cloud disaster recovery

With all the importance placed on disaster recovery, it may sound like a luxury only available to enterprises that can afford to maintain their own data centres. This previously may have been true, however with the growing accessibility and affordability of cloud backup and disaster recovery options, there are now DR solutions that enable business continuity for every organisation. Cloud disaster recovery for businesses offers multiple advantages over traditional on-site technology.

These advantages include:

  • Faster recovery time
  • Cost savings for system repairs
  • Seamless, uncomplicated data recovery
  • Reliability — you can test the recovery plan without any disruptions
  • Scalability with pay-as-you-grow data recovery plans

For any organisation where downtime would cause serious disruption, cloud disaster recovery makes for a quick, cost-effective, and simplistic option.

While it is impossible to plan to avoid disasters entirely, it is possible to plan what your business will do in face of one. Having a disaster recovery plan implemented can reduce the extent of damage and help your business to return to full operations as quickly as possible.

Do you need help with your disaster recovery or backup strategy? Speak to one of our experts today!

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