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Backup, disaster recovery & business continuity…what it all means

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backup-disaster-recovery-and-business-continuityThe terms backup, disaster recovery and business continuity are often used interchangeably. Whilst the practises are closely related, their scope differs significantly. Misunderstanding these could leave your business exposed in the case of data loss or system failure.

We’ve taken each term in turn to highlight the key differences and levels of protection.

Backup

Backup refers to copying data for recovery should the original become lost or damaged. The frequency and nature of backups depends on a businesses’ individual requirements, budgets, data volumes and bandwidth.

On-site backup refers to data stored on local storage devices such as external hard drives or disks. It is generally less expensive, provides immediate access and does not require an internet connection. It does however depend on human interaction to change the media and store it in a safe location, whether a fire proof safe or an off-site location.

Off-site backup refers to data stored on remote servers, usually via the internet. The clear advantage of this is that data is protected from theft or damage should there be a fire or flood within the premises. Data is typically encrypted and stored in multiple servers at different locations, increasing security. Remote backup is generally more expensive and data retrieval is highly dependent on the speed of your internet connection.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery refers to the process of replicating your computing environment – data, systems, networks, and applications, allowing your business to operate as usual.

Whilst data can be retrieved from a backup if your systems are in working order, if your IT environment is down due to say server failure, there is nothing to recover your data to. Getting your systems back up and running would require the purchase of a new server, reinstatement of the operating system and finally recovery of your data. This could take up to a week, raising the following important question; how long could your business be down for?

A backup strategy is the first part of a disaster recovery plan that ensures your data can be recovered in an alternate environment. Two important aspects of an effective disaster recovery plan include:

  • Recovery point objective (RPO): the age of files that must be recovered for normal operations to resume. This will determine the minimum frequency of backup.
  • Recovery time objective (RTO): the maximum acceptable length of time that a computer, system, network, or application can be down after a failure or disaster occurs.

For more practical information, read our backup and disaster recovery checklist.

Business Continuity

Business continuity refers to the procedures required to ensure the mission-critical business functions can continue to operate during or after a disaster. The disaster recovery plan forms part of the business continuity plan, whilst the latter has a broader scope that encompasses business operations, staffing and facilities.


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