What are Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity?

October 16, 2018

Nobody can guarantee that a businesses IT is 100% safe and secure. Things go wrong. This might be a minor issue such as a deleted file, or a major problem such as a server failure or cyber-attack. Your data is precious, and, in the event of an issue, you’ll want to be able to get up and running again as quickly as possible. This is where backup, disaster recovery and business continuity come into play.

These items are often lumped together but they are not the same.  So, what is the difference between backup, disaster recovery and business continuity? And what do you need?

What is a backup?

Backup is simply a copy of your data replicated to another device or location. A regular backup routine is the very minimum that any business should be doing. There are a number of different options that you could use for your backup. The most popular include:

Keep it out the cloudwe’ve blogged in detail about the advantages of cloud backup but in short cloud offers a robust, secure and cost-effective backup solution. Cloud based backup would be our recommended backup option.

External Hard Drive – a very simple, low cost basic backup solution. You simply plug in a external hard drive and copy files across using backup software. This is the lowest cost option but would only be suitable for the smallest, most basic business.

Save to removable media – USB flash drives, or if you want to go retro tapes or DVD’s, can be used as backup devices. Whilst this option offers affordability and portability, USB drives can easily be lost and lack durability. This is not a recommended long-term option for important files.

NAS Device – A Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a server that’s dedicated to saving data. A NAS can back up several computers at once and can be set for automatic backup. However, the initial purchase price can be high, the NAS drives themselves can fail and the backup solution is stored in the same place as the rest of the network. This means no fire and flood protection.

Various NAS drives
NAS drives

What’s The difference between backup, disaster recovery and business continuity

We’ve established what backup is and your options for running backup. So, what is disaster recovery? In basic terms disaster recovery is the strategy to recover your IT environment in the event of a failure. Backup is a small part of disaster recovery. It’s good to have your data backed up but useless if you have no way of restoring the data.

Disaster recovery requires in depth consideration of how to get your systems up and running. Consider a server failure. In order to start working again you would need to replace the server, all software would need to be reinstalled, only then can data recovered from your backup. Even then you’ll still need the system configured and things like printers, routers, switches and firewalls setup. This is likely to take days rather than hours. And that’s only if you have your software licences, drivers etc. all to hand and expertise on tap.

What About Business Continuity?

Another phrase you’ll often hear is business continuity. This is the ability for the business to run in the event of an IT failure. You are looking at the minimum items your going to need to keep the business going whilst disaster recovery takes place. Think about the vital systems that you absolutely cannot be without, even for a couple of hours. Email is the obvious one that springs to mind, but this might also mean your CRM or accounts software.

If you’ve worked out how long disaster recovery is going to take, then you can work out which systems you’ll need in the short term to keep the business running.

For example, if you know that in the event of any type of issue you can be completely up and running in 2-6 hours you may well be able to operate with just email. If a rebuild is likely to take 3-5 days then other systems are going to be required.

Plan For The Worst, Don’t Just Hope For The Best

The majority of businesses nowadays do have some form of backup; however, much fewer have business continuity or disaster recovery plans.

Now you have an understanding of the differences between backup, disaster recovery and business continuity you can start to develop some plans for your business.

Remember that backup is the minimum you should be doing and get that set up. Use a cloud-based solution to get your data off-site for maximum protection.

As the next stage we’d suggest auditing your software. Make a list of everything you have installed on your computers. Then note where the software is installed (e.g. a single machine, a server or in the cloud) and how critical it is to your business.

Once you have an idea of the most critical software then you can start to plan how you keep that software running in the event of IT failure (business continuity) and how long it might take to get everything else up and running again (disaster recovery).

How We Can Help

Your IT Department provide clients with backup solutions as an integrated part of their IT Support contracts. The solution used would depend entirely on the clients requirements.

We advise and make recommendations around the IT elements of business continuity and disaster recovery. However, these plans need consideration beyond the companies technology and therefore we do produce plans for our clients.

If you are not currently a client of Your IT then we’d be happy to talk to you about your IT systems, including backup arrangements and disaster recovery. We’ll undertake a free audit of your systems and may be able to suggest where you can move software and data to the cloud to mitigate risk.

Should you become a Your IT client then we’ll be monitoring and maintaining your systems meaning you’ll greatly reduce the chance that you’ll ever need to use backup, disaster recovery and business continuity.

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