Should your organization invest in disaster recovery (DR), or are data backups sufficient?
Backups and disaster recovery share methods and goals but serve different purposes. Understanding the difference between data backup and disaster recovery solutions is crucial for creating a successful security plan.
This article discusses the critical distinctions between backups and disaster recovery, two practices that safeguard a company from data loss and unwelcome downtime. We thoroughly review these principles, discuss the arguments for adopting either approach and demonstrate how businesses can employ the two practices in tandem to avoid data and revenue losses.
Table Of Content
- Backup Disaster Recovery: An Overview
- What is a Backup?
- What is Disaster Recovery?
- Measuring Recoverability: RTO vs RPO
- Six Essential Terminologies You Should Know About Data Backup Disaster Recovery Solutions
- What Makes a Great Disaster Recovery Plan?
- Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS)
Backup Disaster Recovery: An Overview
While both backup disaster recovery and data backups protect you in the event of a disaster, they are two different practices. Let’s start with the basic definitions:
A backup is an additional physical or virtual duplicate copy of data on another storage device (hard disc, CD/DVD, flash drive, cloud storage, and so on). If you accidentally delete any file or a data loss scenario occurs, you can restore your data from the backup.
Disaster recovery (DR) responds to a major disaster by shifting to a backup IT infrastructure. DR ensures that critical business functions continue normally during a natural or man-made disaster.
Backups of data are vital for security, but they are not the same as a disaster recovery strategy. If you face a regional outage or a large-scale cyberattack, you’d need more than data copies to maintain operational continuity.
Backup Disaster Recovery: A Swift Comparison
Here’s a quick comparison of the two strategies to decide which offers the best ROI for your business.
|Points to compare||Backup||Disaster recovery|
|Purpose||Make a copy of essential data in case something happens to the original.||Ensure that the company can resume functions and avoid downtime in the case of an unanticipated occurrence.|
|Target devices||Servers, workstations, and portable devices||Critical servers and virtual applications|
|Main risks averted||Problems of hosts, minor cyberattacks, inadvertent data erasure, and hardware problems||Regional disasters (tornadoes, fires, power outages, and so on), as well as large-scale cyber attacks|
|Result||A duplicate of the original data||On standby, a fully operational replica of the IT system|
|Scope||Individual files and virtual machines are backed up.||A disaster recovery plan can be implemented on a departmental or enterprise-wide basis.|
|Investment Level||Even top-tier backups are rather inexpensive.||Unless you use DRaaS, the best disaster recovery strategies include purchasing secondary IT infrastructure.|
|Data replication intervals||Occasionally, hourly, day, week, once a month, and so on.||Critical data replication occurs continually, ideally in real-time.|
|Resource allocation||Backups are often compressed and do not require a lot of storage space.||A disaster recovery plan can necessitate a second site with fully operating IT infrastructure (hot, warm, or cold).|
|Complexity||All backup procedures are straightforward.||Complex (more resources, prioritizing business apps, planning for various eventualities, etc.)|
|Guarantee of business continuity||There is no assurance.||Ensures continuity in all circumstances|
Now that you have the overview let’s go into the details of the two ideas.
What is a Backup?
A backup is a physical or virtual duplicate of data that allows you to restore a file (or files) if the original is lost or damaged. Having a data backup is critical for preventing data loss in the following scenarios:
- Natural calamities (for example, fires, storms, and earthquakes).
- Employee mishaps (for example, inadvertent file deletion, misplaced devices, data leaking, and so on).
- Technical issues (damaged hard drive, faulty database, failed software upgrades, and so on).
- Information theft (office break-ins, data breaches, ransomware attacks, stolen laptops, and so on).
Businesses often create data backups at regular intervals (every few hours, once per day, monthly, etc.) to ensure that backups remain current. These “data save points” can be saved on various media and in various places, both on-premises and on the cloud.
The backup method is pretty straightforward because your security team must:
- Be trained on proper backup methods.
- Check that backups meet data storage needs.
- Determine instances when an organization may lose data.
- Determine the best backup interval.
- Determine the duration of storing backups and how frequently you need to back up data.
Types of Backups
The table below summarizes the many methods of data backup your business can opt for:
|Incremental backup||Only updates changes to a file that have occurred since the last incremental backup.||It takes up the smallest space, is the quickest backup, and consumes the least network traffic.||The restoration takes time; a complete recovery is difficult if one of the incremental backups is missing.|
|Differential backup||Only backs up files that have changed since the last complete backup (for example, if one has 5000 lines of code and modifies 100 of them, this backup type only impacts the 50 modified lines).||Storage space is used efficiently; backups are completed faster than full backups, and restoration is completed faster than incremental backups.||It consumes more network bandwidth and storage space than incremental backups (but less than a complete backup).|
|Full backup||The full data set is copied.||A complete replica of the data collection; simple to set up; and very dependable||It requires the largest storage space and consumes the most network bandwidth.|
There is no reason not to employ multiple backup kinds simultaneously to increase resilience. The 3-2-1 rule is used for backup, which means having three copies of data on two distinct media types and one off-site copy. You can save data in three ways:
- Online backup: Use a third-party service to remotely back up data via the Internet, generally to a cloud-based server.
- Off-site backup: A duplicate of data kept somewhere apart from the original.
- Local backup: Back up to a nearby local device (tapes, discs, hard and USB drives, CDs, etc.).
What is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery (DR) is a set of rules and practices that enable a company to quickly restore access to its IT systems following a natural or man-made disaster.
Compared to a backup, DR is a comprehensive method to ensure business continuity in various scenarios when vital activities may be hampered (or entirely cease). Here are some examples of these unanticipated events:
- A natural disaster (such as a tornado, earthquake, flood, or wildfire).
- Cyber threats (viruses, DDoS, ransomware, APT attacks, and so on).
- Power Failures
- Failure of critical equipment (such as data storage)
- The network goes down.
A disaster recovery strategy should include the ability to migrate to a redundant set of servers and storage systems. This backup infrastructure maintains operations during the disaster until the primary data center becomes functional again.
Disaster Recovery Sites Classification
There are three kinds of backup facilities based on how soon you can get a site up and running:
- Cold Site: Only the IT infrastructure is hosted here.
- Warm site: It has all the required equipment and technology but lacks up-to-date data.
- Hot site: All required equipment, technology, and current data are included.
In the event of a disaster, failing to have a disaster recovery plan can have a detrimental impact on an organization, leading to:
- Reputational harm.
- Supply chain interruptions.
- High recovery costs.
- Income and sales are lost.
- Service interruption.
- Employee and consumer happiness suffer.
Owing to these negative outcomes, businesses must compare backup disaster recovery solutions to make informed decisions supporting business continuity.
Measuring Recoverability: RTO vs. RPO
In disaster recovery, the recovery time objective (RTO) and the recovery point objective (RPO) are two key criteria.
RTO is the maximum time before a system must be returned online. For instance, a company’s voice control systems may have an RTO of ten minutes, indicating that the system must be operational again within ten minutes of becoming offline.
RTOs are determined depending on how much time it can afford for a system to be down during a crisis. This limit varies based on the organization and industry. For instance, a physical library has much lower RTOs than an e-commerce website.
RPO is a time-based assessment of the maximum data loss that may be tolerated in a disaster. For example, if a database’s RPO is four hours, the system must back up at least four hours daily. The RPO indicates how frequently data must be backed up to be recovered during a disaster.
RPOs differ since each company must estimate its:
- Data availability requirements.
- The “cost” of data loss.
- Maximum data loss that can be tolerated.
- The effect of data storage types on recovery speed.
- Factors specific to the industry (for example, the penalty for lost financial transactions or health records).
Six Essential Terminologies You Should Know About Data Backup Disaster Recovery Solutions
- Recovery Time Objective(RTO): the appropriate period for operations recovery.
- Recovery Point Objective(RPO): the greatest amount of data that might be lost in a disaster.
- Failover: Automatically offloading jobs and processes to backup systems.
- Failback: The process of returning to the old systems.
- Restore: Transferring backup data to your primary system or data center.
- Backup Window: The time frame for which backups are scheduled to execute.
What Makes a Great Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recovery plan is a formal, company-wide document that details how the organization will deal with a catastrophic event.
At the very least, a disaster recovery plan should include the following items:
- Legal actions to be pursued.
- Instructions for getting to and activating the recovery location.
- Technical documentation for support infrastructure
- A list of disaster recovery systems.
- A declaration of DR policy and a summary of the strategy.
- All recovery objectives (RTOs and RPOs included).
- For each event type, step-by-step guidance to disaster response actions.
- Diagrams and sketches of the complete network and recovery location.
- A summary of all employees that are responsible for DR.
- Contact information for members of the go-to DR team.
- A list of assets.
The interesting thing about disaster recovery is that every business needs to have its “personalized” disaster recovery strategy because of the unique recovery objectives and continuity requirements.
However, here are some broad guidelines that you might need to include in your business DR plan:
- Risk evaluations: Begin developing a plan using risk assessment and a business impact analysis. This initial stage assists in identifying potential dangers.
- Map your assets: Every strategy should include a list of assets and their dependencies (hardware, software, cloud, essential data, and so on). Order assets based on how likely they are to interrupt corporate operations if they fail.
- Create a dedicated disaster recovery team: The disaster recovery team is responsible for developing and implementing the disaster recovery plan.
- Test your DR procedures: Regular testing guarantees that the strategy remains effective and that the team knows what to do during an issue.
- Keep updating your DR plan: A disaster recovery plan should be an ongoing document that evolves together with your company. Adapt the plan anytime more devices are added, infrastructure is expanded, or better backup solutions are discovered.
Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) is a managed solution to DR in which you outsource backup infrastructure hosting and management to a third-party supplier.
Businesses can opt for either subscription or pay-per-use DRaaS options on the market.
For many businesses considering backup disaster recovery solutions, DRaaS is an excellent option for in-house DR strategy.
Choosing this route allows your business to avoid the cost of setting up and maintaining a backup hosting environment. You also free up internal resources and may be able to rely on top-tier recovery timelines as specified by a service level agreement (SLA).
Let’s look at an example to see what DRaaS may offer.
Assume you manage an e-commerce site, and a ransomware attack hits your website. Here’s one way this scenario would play out:
- When you discover that someone deployed encryption to scramble multiple databases, your team begins complaining that the website is functioning strangely.
- You declare an emergency, contact your provider, and request a DRaaS failover.
- In minutes, the provider will migrate your system to its cloud infrastructure, allowing you to continue operations from a preset environment.
- Your internal team investigates the source of the attack and tries to resolve the problem. Meanwhile, the website continues to function normally, and end users are oblivious to what is happening behind the scenes.
- After the security team regains control, you begin the failback and transition activities to the on-premises infrastructure.
Pros of DRaaS
- There is no need to create or operate a disaster recovery facility.
- DRaaS sites can be up and running in minutes.
- You get the full benefit of specialist DR professionals
- There is no need for formal in-house DR training
- The services are less costly than a designated disaster recovery site
Cons of DRaaS
- You are fully dependent on the provider.
- You could run into problems with cloud-based applications
- The same disaster may take out the DRaaS vendor’s infrastructure
- Latency might occur if the fallback infrastructure is too far away.
- Concerns about privacy and security during migration
Backup disaster recovery is a critical decision for business continuity and data protection. In the event of an emergency, data backups will not suffice. Any company that wants to survive a major unanticipated tragedy should have a disaster recovery plan.
There is no way to secure business continuity without DR because statistics clearly show that disasters happen “when,” not “if.”
Q. How does backup differentiate from disaster recovery?
The subprocesses ‘backup’ and ‘disaster recovery’ frequently need clarification for one another or the entire operation. The process of creating file copies is known as backup. Disaster recovery is the strategy and technique for swiftly restoring connectivity to applications, data, and IT resources following an outage.
Q. Why do we need backup disaster recovery solutions?
Regardless of sector or size, every organization must be ready to recover rapidly from any occurrence that disrupts day-to-day operations. A corporation that does not have a disaster recovery plan may experience data loss, decreased productivity, out-of-budget spending, and reputational harm, which may result in lost customers and income.
Q. Is having a backup but no DRP (disaster recovery plan) OK?
Again, as an individual, you may get by backing up your data. However, any company that wants to survive a significant unforeseen incident affecting its software or data must have a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy. Data backups are merely one component of such a strategy.
Q. What is most important to have in a disaster recovery plan?
The DRP must include a step-by-step plan for dealing with each sort of downtime and catastrophe, such as data loss, flooding, catastrophes, power outages, ransomware, server failing, site-wide outages, and other concerns. Include these critical components in any IT disaster recovery plan template.