What's the difference between backup and disaster recovery (and which is best for your business)?

Posted by: Tamal Saha
Posted on: 08/07/2021

Disasters can happen to any business.


But being prepared can make all the difference. One incident could lead to mass data loss and exposure of personal information, causing unnecessary downtime and putting the trust of your customers and your reputation at risk.


Whether you’re hit by a natural disaster, human error, hardware failure, data breach, or ransomware attack, you need to recover your data quickly and painlessly.


However, while backing up vital data is an integral part of any business’s IT strategy, having backups is not the same as having a disaster recovery plan. Differentiating backups from disaster recovery can help you develop effective strategies for avoiding the consequences of downtime and business disruptions.


To help you understand, this blog will outline the key differences between backup and disaster recovery and help you create a disaster recovery plan.


Let’s get to it…


Firstly, what is backup and disaster recovery?


Backup and disaster recovery aren’t the same thing but are commonly confused.


Backup is the process of making multiple copies of data, backing it up to protect it should a disaster happen. You might need to restore backup data if you delete something by accident, suffer database corruption, or have issues with a software upgrade.


Disaster recovery (often referred to as DR), on the other hand, relates to the plan and processes for quickly re-establishing access to applications, resources and data after a disaster or outage. It is a strategic data security plan that seeks to protect an enterprise from the effects of natural or human-induced disasters, such as a tornado or cyber-attack. A DR plan aims to maintain critical functions before, during and after a disaster event, to prevent huge disruption to business operations.


Many businesses mistake backup solutions for disaster recovery but it is important to note that there are key differences and unfortunately some businesses find this out the hard way. Just having copies of data doesn’t mean you can keep your business running. To ensure business continuity, you need a detailed disaster recovery plan that you can rely on.


So, what’s the difference between backup and disaster recovery?


Backups refer to the actual copies or copying of files and data. Disaster recovery comprises of the full strategy for responding to a disaster event and putting the backups into action. Essentially, backups come underneath the umbrella of disaster recovery.


You may already have a data backup strategy but responding to a disaster means preparing for a worst-case scenario. Your disaster recovery plan outlines who’s in charge of getting applications back online and how you’ll manage customer relations if there is a data breach. This is the difference between disaster recovery and backups – one cannot effectively exist without the other.


Data backup and disaster recovery often get confused.


So, now you know the difference between data backup and disaster recovery it’s time to learn more about each solution in isolation, so you can implement both together. Then you can outline a detailed backup and disaster recovery solution for your business helping to protect data from natural disasters, human error and technical glitches.


Backup explained


As mentioned above, a backup is a physical or virtual copy of your data on another device or in another location. This could be on an external hard drive or on separate storage in a data centre.


OfficeTechHub recommends that backups are performed daily, so that day’s data is copied and stored away as regularly as possible. This can be done manually or remotely and automatically in the cloud. Having your data backed up means you should be able to restore it to the original source should there be an issue.


How do you plan for backups?


Planning a backup routine is simple. You decide what you need to backup, how long you need to keep it for and how often you need to back it up.


When planning a data backup strategy, you should consider:

  • How much data needs to be backed up?
  • What kind of data needs to be backed up?
  • What kind of infrastructure are you backing up from?
  • What your budget is.
  • How quickly you need your data back.

Once you have the information you need from the list above, it will be easier to decide which kind of backup solution you need. There are tonnes of different backup solutions all offering different approaches to solving the problem. For any backup or data storage queries, OfficeTechHub is happy to advise.


The different types of backup:


Cloud backup


Cloud-based backup systems protect data via a web-based control panel and the backups are copied to a secure location across the Internet.


Cloud backup removes the need for onsite hardware or capital.


Backups can be initiated from anywhere, using any computer, tablet, or smartphone and can be backed up in the cloud as regularly as every 15-minutes, minimising data losses in disaster situations.


Local backup


The local or traditional approach usually means an initial full copy of the data is taken and each subsequent day only the blocks of data that have changed are copied over. Sometimes this data is copied onto tape or disks and stored offsite.


A local backup gives businesses physical control over their backups, removing the need for third-party access to information and doesn’t rely on an Internet connection. This can be a cost-effective option for small to mid-sized companies, however, it does require capital investment in hardware and infrastructure.


A successful backup may mean that you have a copy of your data, but it doesn’t guarantee you can access it as quickly as you might need to. This is why a disaster recovery plan is important.


Data centres are a traditional method of backing up data.


Disaster recovery explained


Disaster recovery goes beyond having a backup. It means having a plan and technical solution in place that will keep the core components of your business functioning should disaster strike.


To create a disaster recovery plan (DR plan), you must first identify the key systems required to keep your business running in the event of an incident that takes your normal infrastructure offline. This could be a natural disaster or a malicious event such as a cyber-attack.


Setting out your disaster recovery plan can take time but it’s well worth the investment.


Making a Disaster Recovery plan includes:

  • Identifying the key systems your business can’t function without.
  • Deciding how long your business could function with each of the key systems offline.
  • Establishing how much data your business can afford to lose.
  • Deciding how a disaster recovery system (DR system) would take over – you can choose manual or virtual.

Disaster recovery solutions can take many forms. Some are great at restoring systems from backups, others can automatically take over when the primary system is lost. We can help you choose a solution best suited to your operations, should you need any advice.


Basic steps to creating your disaster recovery plan


To build a disaster recovery plan you need to conduct careful research to understand the needs of your organisation and the risks it faces. You also need to carefully coordinate the plan with all stakeholders, test it to make sure it works and continuously update it to make sure it stays relevant.


Here are some tips to help you create your own disaster recovery plan:

  1. Map out your assets – identify what you need to protect, including network equipment, hardware, software, cloud services, and most importantly, your critical data.
  2. Identify criticality and context – understand how your assets are used and their importance to the business. Order these by how likely they are to disrupt business operations.
  3. Risk assessment – pinpoint which threats are likely to face the business as a whole and specific assets.
  4. Select disaster recovery setup and tools – using your knowledge of assets to be protected and the risks involved think about the tools that can help you create your final disaster recovery setup.
  5. Communicate the plan – circulate your disaster recovery plan to the relevant teams.
  6. Test and review – test the plan by conducting a realistic disaster drill and seeing if and how staff act according to the plan. Learn from the test and modify the plan and procedures accordingly.

Let’s work together to implement your backup and disaster recovery plan


A backup strategy in partnership with the right approach to disaster recovery, managed by trusted and experienced people, means you will have your business continuity covered. This is where a Backup and Disaster Recovery solution comes in. All OfficeTechHub backup and disaster recovery strategies rely on a comprehensive backup and recovery solution.


OfficeTechHub’s disaster recovery solutions protect a wide range of systems, applications and storage devices, in physical and virtual environments, located in the data centre, remote offices and in the cloud.


We offer data loss protection services that recover data, applications, and virtual machines from any platform, with versatile recovery solutions that protect from all kinds of threats. And because we’re all about making IT smart and simple, our data loss preventative system offers fast recovery through a single, scalable solution.


Let’s work together and unleash the power of your IT. Get in touch to see how OfficeTechHub can help your business work smarter.

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