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The Difference Between Disaster Recovery and Backup

Disaster recovery and data back-up are both crucial elements in protecting your company’s mission-critical data and systems. As a data center and Cloud service provider, we often hear companies use the terms disaster recovery and backup interchangeably, when they are in fact quite different. According to the Forrester Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery survey, enterprises struggle with both backup and DR for critical databases. Are companies in need of both, or is it okay to rely exclusively on one? Understanding the similarities and differences between the two will be helpful to guarantee that all bases are covered.

Data backup. Simply put, a backup (insert:, is a copy of one or more files created as an alternate in case the original data is lost or becomes unusable. Data loss occurs for a number of reasons - human error, hardware failure, power failure, natural disasters, etc – which is why it is important to have another copy of your mission-critical data to protect your business if one of these events should occur. When determining which files should be backed up, the general rule is to backup any work or data that can’t be easily replaced. Backups should be scheduled at regular intervals, and we recommend storing at least one copy at an off-site location or in the Cloud in case your physical location is inaccessible.

Disaster recovery. While backups are important, they do not fully protect your business in the event of a disaster. After all, just because you have a copy of your data doesn’t mean you will be able to access the systems or applications needed to run your business. A disaster recovery plan is a set of procedures used to get your critical IT systems up and running as soon as possible in the event of a disaster. The first step in creating a disaster recovery strategy is to determine the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The recovery point objective (RPO) is the maximum acceptable amount of data loss measured in time, and the recovery time objective (RTO) is the maximum desired length of time allowed before a business can resume normal operations and service levels. Based on these two factors, you can determine the resources, steps and infrastructure needed to meet your goals.

All of this is to say that backup plays a vital role in any disaster recovery plan, but it is not enough to ensure your business is protected after a major event. To minimize impact after a disaster, you need proper backup and a well-defined disaster recovery plan with specific recovery goals in mind.

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