Data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity are terms that many people use interchangeably. While these terms are certainly related, they do not mean the same thing.
So, what is the difference between data backup vs disaster recovery vs business continuity? And why do you need all three?
What is a data backup plan?
Data backup ensures you have at least two copies of your data stored in two different locations. For example, your staff might access and save information via a cloud platform. But what happens if a ransomware attack compromises this platform and takes your data with it?
Data backup is a contingency plan that ensures you can recover your data should a disaster occur. A backup plan aims to ensure that, if something happens to the original data, your team can still access the information needed to continue operating.
There are three main types of backups:
- Full backups copy all of the data in your business systems to another location, such as another cloud. Full backups provide the most assurance, but they require more time to complete and take up a lot of storage space.
- Incremental backups only copy new or changed data, providing a time-efficient alternative if you want to complete backups daily or every few hours.
- Differential backups follow a similar process to incremental backups, but rather than updating the data added since the last incremental backup, they backup data added since the last full backup.
No matter what type of data you leverage, an important element is testing to ensure that your systems work properly and that you can retrieve your data in the event of a disaster. We recommend testing your system after outages, system updates or each time a backup takes place.
With a backup plan in place, businesses can minimise the impact of data loss and ensure that they can continue operating even in the face of a major disaster.
Preparing your business with disaster recovery
Disaster recovery (DR) is the plan and technical solution you leverage in the event of a disaster. It ensures that your business can continue operating in a natural disaster, such as storms and flooding, or a man-made disaster like a cyber attack.
Some of the key components typically included in a disaster recovery plan are:
- Identifying critical business functions and systems: This includes hardware, software, cloud infrastructure, networks, and specific data.
- How you will maintain and restore systems in the event of an outage: You might decide to use an automated or manual solution to restore your systems in a disaster.
- How long your business could function without these systems: Many businesses will struggle with losing data after only a few hours of downtime.
- Creating backup systems and data stores that you can easily access during a disaster: When you need to be up and running within hours, you need systems that everyone can use to restore data and ensure business continuity.
- Testing the disaster recovery plan regularly to ensure its effectiveness: Once again, we recommend regular testing to ensure your disaster recovery plan works as needed.
Disaster recovery keeps a business running smoothly during and after a disaster. Businesses can minimise the disruptions caused by a disaster and quickly resume operations by having a plan in place.
How backup and disaster recovery support business continuity
Business continuity planning is a critical component of any organisation, no matter its size or industry. If your business cannot continue operating, you could lose customers, revenue, and even your company altogether. Business continuity is the ability of an organisation to keep operating even in the face of a disaster. It includes having a plan in place to maintain operations during and after a disaster.
A business continuity plan lets you quickly resume operations after a disaster by detailing how you will restore your data and the people needed to get your business on its feet.
A man-made disaster such as a cyber attack might include restoring lost data quickly. During a natural disaster, business continuity might include your work-from-home plan. By having a business continuity plan, you can minimise the disruptions caused by a disaster and quickly resume operations.
Disaster recovery and data backup make up two elements of your business continuity plan. Your disaster recovery plan is the procedure in place to ensure you have the systems to get your business running in a disaster, whereas business continuity is the process. Your data backup plan simply ensures you do not lose any data during a disaster. Both of these elements contribute to business continuity.
For example, your business continuity plan might look like this:
- When your systems go down, or you lose data, you know you have your data backed up elsewhere.
- Your disaster recovery solution restores this data to ensure you can continue normal operations.
- Business continuity includes various processes, such as switching the power back on, working remotely, and checking successful data restoration.
Data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity, while used interchangeably, do not mean the same thing. Data backup is about making copies of data so that your disaster recovery systems can restore it. Disaster recovery is the system and procedures for successfully backing up your data. Business continuity is your response plan for getting your business up and running quickly after a natural or man-made disaster.
By understanding the difference between these three concepts, you can prepare for any events that attempt to threaten your business.
How soma supports business continuity
Running a business is already a challenging endeavour without the added burden of ensuring all aspects of your business operations run like clockwork.
Our IT Audit reviews your current technology, and then we implement solutions that meet your current needs and scale as your business grows. We provide all-inclusive support, maintenance and management of your IT infrastructure. As your managed service provider, soma offers a single point of contact, convenience and flexibility for all of your IT needs.