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The Difference Between Data Backup, Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity Blog Feature
Courtney Casey

By: Courtney Casey on July 31st, 2012

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The Difference Between Data Backup, Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity

Getting Better IT Results | Tech Girl

I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “backup,” “disaster recovery,” and “business continuity.” What most business owners do not realize is that these are three separate things and without all three pieces, their business is in a vulnerable position.

Data Backup

First off, data backup is just copying your data onto another device. This could be a tape drive, an external hard drive, or an offsite backup.

In most of these forms, your data is being stored in a raw format. This means that your applications, configurations, and network settings are not being backed up with it, so if you needed to restore, or recover, your network from the data backup, you may be down for days or weeks.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is the ability to actually restore or recover all of your files, software, and functionality, without corruption.

Many times, people confuse this with business continuity, but disaster recovery is only one component. Disaster recovery just means that you can get your data back in some period of time.

Also, people tend to assume that disaster recovery refers only to large-scale, natural disasters, but a “disaster” could be as simple as a critical file erased, the sprinklers went off in your server room, or the server’s hard drive crashed.

Business Continuity

Business continuity is the ability for your business to continue operations after a small or large scale disaster.

Let’s say your office burned to the ground and your server was destroyed...

  • How would you continue operations while everything is being rebuilt?
  • Where would your employees work from temporarily?
  • How will they access your client files, financial records, and important documents?

These are the kinds of questions that business continuity plans can contain. If your server was synchronized with an offsite data center or “in the cloud,” your employees could work from home or another location, giving your business continuity.

The Difference Between Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity

The real difference between disaster recovery and business continuity is how long it would take for your business to get completely back up and running. Business continuity aims for the least amount of downtime possible.

When you’re creating your business continuity plans, you should consider how your organization will continue to operate if you could not access your building, server, or data, and you should review these plans annually.

If you need assistance planning, implementing, and managing your backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity plans, talk to a trusted IT consultant. Make sure your critical business information will be readily available after a disaster of any size.

Related: What is Failover?

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About Courtney Casey

In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.