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Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: Key similarities and differences

At some point, all businesses will experience major disruptions or a disaster that will affect employees and their ability to work. These disruptions could be anything from a natural disaster, such as a fire or flood, to a cyberattack, such as ransomware or distributed denial of service. Regardless of what the disruption is, businesses must have plans, policies and technologies in place to ensure they can bounce back as quickly as possible. This is the goal of business continuity and disaster recovery. Whilst these two concepts have elements in common, there are also key differences as each performs a specific goal. In this article, we will discuss the key similarities and differences between the two and how businesses can be prepared, no matter what.

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity is a broad plan of how a business will continue to operate during a disruptive event. It involves policies and procedures that temporarily address the disruption to maintain the core functionality of a business’s operations until they can fix the issue. The backbone of business continuity is an important document known as a business continuity plan (BCP). This plan includes an analysis of all critical business functions, a list of risks to the business and a list of actions to be undertaken by specific employees or departments during a disaster.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery refers to how businesses will recover after a disruptive event or disaster. A disaster recovery plan is centred around technology and ensures that regardless of what happens, a business can recover all their data and IT systems promptly. The plan also includes a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and a Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The RTO specifies the amount of time required to recover all applications and data, whereas the RPO specifies how often data needs to be backed up, or in other words, how recent the recovered data will be.

Key Similarities

Business continuity and disaster recovery are both proactive plans designed to help a business prepare for major unexpected disruptions. The disaster that businesses are planning for can be the same for both plans, including natural disasters, pandemics, power loss, cyberattacks and technology failures. Both of these plans should also be regularly tested and reviewed, to ensure effectiveness in a disaster, but also to be updated to support changes in the business and the threat landscape.

Key Differences

Whilst business continuity is focused on keeping a business functional during a disaster, the goal of disaster recovery is to ensure a business’s data and IT systems can recover as quickly as possible after a disaster. For this reason, disaster recovery places more emphasis on technology as a means of recovery.

As a business continuity plan aims to keep a business operating in times of crisis, it often includes the use of different technologies or having employees work from different locations. Whereas a disaster recovery plan is designed to restore the standard technologies and systems as quickly as possible.

How To Be Prepared, No Matter What

All businesses should create detailed business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans to limit the impact of any major disruption. One technology that is essential for both plans is a comprehensive backup solution. Disaster recovery is not possible without regular backups that are stored offsite, so if the disaster occurs in the office, the backups are not affected. The proliferation of cloud storage has made it possible for all businesses to have offsite backups for a relatively low cost. Having a cloud backup solution also greatly reduces the RTO, as the data is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. The RPO can also be easily set, as most cloud backup solutions allow the business to decide what data is backed up, and how often.

How We Can Help

Although each business has its own requirements for business continuity and disaster recovery, technology has a role to play in both. Together with our specialist partners, we can help you with choosing the right technology solution, as well as implementation and deployment, to ensure that even when disaster strikes, your business is prepared.


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