Data Backups VS. Disaster Recovery

Data backups and a proper disaster recovery plan are somewhat similar, but also drastically different. Both terms are essential components in supporting business continuity, but understanding their key differences is fundamental in creating a reliable workplace infrastructure.

Let’s start by defining each item:

What is a data backup?

A data backup is the process of copying a file or files to something as simple as an external drive or shared network storage or as complex as creating automated schedules through a cloud based service.

This process provides your users with an archive of their files that can be retrieved in the event of a disastrous event.

What is a disaster recover (abbreviated as DR) plan?

A disaster recovery plan is a comprehensive strategy that protects an enterprise from various human or natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, cyber attacks, or any other type of disruption to its daily operations.

The primary goal of any disaster recovery plan is to ensure business continuity by maintaining critical infrastructure functions and data before, during, and after a disastrous event.

OK. So what’s the difference between backups and disaster recovery?

1. The requirements and strategy of retaining and restoring your data

While there are many different types and ways to store your critical files, for most organizations (those without a DR plan in place), a backup is a process that is typically performed daily to ensure data retention at a single location for recovery.

A disaster recovery plan takes your data backups and creates an effective strategy detailing how to put those data silos into action in the event of a disastrous event.

You may have a backup approach already implemented, but a disaster recovery plan means having answers to the most important questions in the event of your worst-case scenario:

  • Who is in charge of restoring your business applications?
  • Which applications take priority over others?
    • Defining an RTO (recovery time objective) policy
  • How much data loss and/or downtime before significant harm is done to your business
    • Identifying your RPO (recovery point objective)
  • How will you handle your customers while you work on getting your infrastructure operational?

This, and many other items, are the differences between a standard backup plan and comprehensive disaster recovery initiative.

2. The ability to sustain business continuity

Backing up your data is essential, there is no getting around that. If you’re not doing it, contact us and we’ll help get you started.

One thing to keep in mind is that backing up your data is only useful in the event you need to immediately restore a document or a group of files.

Disaster recovery is about creating a process to ensure that your business doesn’t miss a beat in the event of a catastrophe.

This means ensuring optimal business continuity be creating a clone of your primary infrastructure that you can use as an alternate environment in case your systems and applications are suddenly compromised.

Remember,having a backup of your files is great, but they’re not going to do you any good if you can’t access them.

3. A recipe for restoration after the damage has been done

For most businesses, once a backup plan is implemented it’s generally not revisited until it’s needed. The task of restoring files is typically handled in an ad hoc manner through help desk tickets or other forms of requests.

This might be acceptable at some levels, but it must come with an understanding that files may be incorrect versions and some may not be recoverable at all.

A disaster recovery (DR) plan means creating an extensive flowchart that assigns the tasks necessary to restoring operations to the members of your team. You’ll define proper RTOs and RPOs to maximize your business continuity, while having guidelines in place so everyone in your organization knows what to expect when an event occurs.


Understanding the differences is the beginning to creating a more effective infrastructure

We’ve only just touched on the basics of disaster recovery. The first step is realizing that backing up your data is only a small portion of having a proper disaster recovery plan in action.

If you’re concerned that your business is not properly prepared and is in need of a disaster recovery plan, we can help you! Get in touch with our team today and we can help you create a disaster recovery plan through our Xerox Managed IT Services program.

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