Data loss and security breaches are nowadays regular events. It’s not a matter of ‘what if’ a disaster will take place, only a matter of ‘when.’

It’s an understatement that data is extremely important for any organisation. Among your files and records, you have stored customer information, which is extremely valuable and extremely hard – or impossible to get back once lost. 

Plus, your data volume only keeps growing, at a faster rate with each passing day. This is why, for the proper functioning of a business, all information on any device should be protected and available for use at any time. 

So, whatever the size of your business, to make sure the damage to your organisation is minimal, you need to have backup and disaster recovery plans, policies and strategies in place that keep your data safe and ensure business continuity. 

Backup and Disaster Recovery (BUDR/BDR)

Data backup is a basic part of an IT strategy for any organisation. Accidents (human error or software and server issues) and cyber attacks happen, and data loss costs money. According to Gemalto, “68 records are lost or stolen every second” and additional data by IBM reveals that “$150 is the average cost per lost or stolen record.”

Unplanned interruptions to your business can quickly escalate and result in lost sales, loss of reputation and disrupted service. 

While backing up your data – whether you use external backup or data cloud backup storage – and having IT security in place is essential for your business, they are not enough for ensuring continuity. A disaster recovery plan is also needed to avoid costly business interruptions. 

So what’s the difference between backup and disaster recovery and why it’s important. 

What’s the difference between data backup and disaster recovery?

Understanding the basics of data backup and disaster recovery, as well as the difference between them, are fundamental for the continuity and resilience of your organisation. 

What is data backup? 

A data backup definition is to make copies of your files (data and/or applications available) so you can retrieve the copy after a data loss event. 

What is disaster recovery?

The disaster recovery NIST definition is how long it will take to get your data back “in the event of a major hardware or software failure or destruction of facilities.” There is a lot of disaster recovery software available (VMware, Veeam Disaster Recovery, AWS, Terraform or Azure) and it works by replicating systems to the cloud. 

But to fully understand their differences and what they mean for the success of your business, we’re going to look at them in a wider context: backup vs disaster recovery, disaster recovery vs resilience, disaster recovery vs contingency plan. How do they all connect to help your business? 

A contingency plan is focused on keeping your organisation running. Cyber resilience is about creating a structure that can withstand the least damage during an unplanned event. Meanwhile, data backup means protecting your files by duplicating them to other locations. A disaster recovery plan’s focus is on getting the enterprise back to normal after a disaster.  

Resilient organisations continually work to adapt to changes and risks that can affect their ability to continue critical functions. A disaster recovery plan (DRP) and a business continuity plan (BCP) are just two of the contingency plans that make a business resilient. 

The difference between DRP and BCP is that a BCP keeps the business running after a disaster and a DRP restores normal business operations after the disaster.

What’s the basis of disaster recovery (DR)?

When talking about disaster recovery, there are 2 essential parameters to keep in mind:

  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – How much data am I willing to lose? This depends on your data backup frequency.
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – How long could my organisation operate if the data centre was compromised? What’s the downtime? (if you want to find out more about RPO and RTO, we’ve made a video for you).

We’ve outlined more about why data backup is important for your business in this data backup and disaster recovery example. A company that was affected by ransomware contacted us for help. They thought their RPO was one day, when in fact it was five. And they hadn’t even considered the RTO – which ended up being three days. 

What is disaster recovery testing and why is it important? 

When disaster strikes, you want to ensure that your business is back to normal within the allocated tolerance level. So, as we’ve seen in the example above, that company lost a whole week without being prepared for it.

According to data by Datto and FEMA, large enterprises are set back $11,600 per minute of downtime, with small businesses paying around $133 per minute! In fact, 40-60% of small businesses don’t recover after data loss. 

Disaster recovery testing involves simulating a disaster such as an IT failure to assess if the disaster recovery methods work as planned. 

A best practice disaster recovery plan testing checklist includes:

  • RPO and RTO 
  • Hardware and software assessment
  • Personnel duties 
  • Disaster recovery sites 
  • Identifying essential data
  • Creating crisis and response processes 
  • Keep testing 

What is a good backup policy?

We’ve already seen the benefits of data backup, but what are the best practices?

In the past, external hard drives were great, but we’ve come to realise how fragile and prone to damage they are. Most people know about Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive, which are examples of cloud storage (by the way, Microsoft does not back up Office 365 automatically).

The data backup rule of three (3-2-1) is a simple way to create a backup policy:

  • Keep three copies of your data: this increases the disaster recovery time rate 
  • Keep two copies locally, but on different media: external hard drives, storage drives, cloud environments
  • Keep one copy off-site: data centres, cloud environments

Do you have a backup and disaster recovery for databases in your organisation?

By now, we hope you’re realising the importance of data backup and disaster recovery for business and why both are so important. But not every business can afford continuous real-time backups and comprehensive disaster recovery sites. However, each business is different and as your managed service provider, we can provide a personalised, robust backup and disaster recovery solution to ensure your company is protected and running efficiently. Contact us today for a free audit