Backups Vs. Disaster Recovery: Know the Difference

July 10, 2023
20 min read
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Understanding Backups and Disaster Recovery for Your Business

In today's digital age, where data is the lifeblood of businesses, safeguarding it against potential threats is more important than ever. The terms 'backups' and 'disaster recovery' are often thrown around interchangeably in discussions about data protection, but what do they really mean? More importantly, how do they differ, and which one does your business need?Let's take a close look at backups and disaster recovery, demystifying these concepts and helping you understand their unique roles in maintaining business continuity. Whether you're a small business owner or a CEO at a large corporation, understanding the differences between backups and disaster recovery can be the key to surviving data loss events and keeping your operations running smoothly.

What Are Backups?

IT backups refer to the process of copying and archiving computer and system data so it can be accessed and restored in case of a data loss event like a system failure, accidental deletion, or a cyber attack. This practice is crucial for businesses of all sizes as it ensures valuable and often sensitive information is not irretrievably lost.There are several types of IT backups, each with its unique advantages:

  1. Full Backups: As the name suggests, a full backup involves making a copy of all the data in the system. This is the most comprehensive type of backup, but it also requires the most storage space and time to complete.
  2. Differential Backups: Differential backups only copy the data that has changed or been added since the last full backup. This means they require less storage space and can be completed more quickly than full backups. However, to restore your system from a differential backup, you'll need both the last full backup and the last differential backup.
  3. Incremental Backups: Incremental backups take it a step further by only backing up the data that has changed since the last backup, whether it was a full backup or an incremental backup. This makes incremental backups even faster and more storage-efficient than differential backups. However, restoring from incremental backups can be slower because it requires reassembling data from the last full backup and all subsequent incremental backups.

How backup data is stored can also vary:

  1. Local Backups: These are stored on-premise, perhaps on another server or an external hard drive. The advantage is that the data is readily accessible if needed. However, local backups can be vulnerable to physical damage or theft.
  2. Offsite Backups: Offsite backups involve storing backup data at a different physical location, protecting it from any local disasters like fires or floods. However, accessing and restoring this data may take longer compared to local backups.
  3. Online (Cloud) Backups: Online, or cloud services backups, store data on remote servers at data centers accessible via the Internet. This approach offers a high level of flexibility and scalability, allowing you to access your data from anywhere. Security is also robust, with data typically encrypted during transfer and storage.

Depending on the type and size of your business, you may need one or a combination of backup types and locations. If you are unsure which backup plan is right for you, a managed IT services provider like Everound can help you create a plan that works best for your business needs.

What Is Disaster Recovery?

Backups are a part of disaster recovery, as they ensure data is not permanently lost in case of a disaster. However, disaster recovery goes well beyond just data protection. It involves a comprehensive plan detailing how to restore hardware, applications, and data in a coordinated manner to quickly resume business operations.Disaster recovery (DR) is a critical component of any organization's strategy to ensure business continuity in the face of unforeseen events. It consists of a set of policies and procedures that are put in place to protect an organization's IT infrastructure and enable the resumption of normal operations in the event of a disaster.Disasters can range from cyber attacks, sabotage, and network crashes to mass power outages and natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. Each of these situations can interrupt business operations, causing both financial losses and damage to an organization's reputation.Two key concepts in DR solutions are RTOs and RPOs -- Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The RTO refers to the maximum amount of time that your application can be offline. This could range from minutes for high-priority systems to hours or even days for less critical systems. On the other hand, the RPO is the maximum amount of data loss your organization can tolerate, measured in time. For instance, if your RPO is one hour, your systems must back up data every hour.A well-structured disaster recovery plan should also address several important questions. For example, "Who is in charge of getting operations back online?" This person or team will be responsible for executing the recovery plan and coordinating efforts across the organization.Another question might be, "What is our strategy to manage customer relations during a data breach?" This involves communication strategies to keep customers informed and maintain their trust during the recovery process.Disaster recovery is not just about data but about ensuring the entire business can bounce back from a disaster. It's a multi-faceted approach that requires careful planning and regular testing to ensure its effectiveness.

Backups or Disaster Recovery? Which Do You Need?

Now that you understand the difference between backups and disaster recovery, which one do you need for your business? The simple answer is both are indispensable components of a comprehensive data protection strategy. They serve different purposes and offer varying levels of protection, making them crucial for different scenarios.Backups, for instance, are excellent for protecting the data on individual PCs or pieces of equipment. Imagine a scenario where a team member's laptop succumbs to an unfortunate coffee spill and malfunctions. In this case, having a backup of the data stored on that laptop can save the day, allowing you to restore the lost information without much hassle. However, while this incident might cause some inconvenience, it's unlikely to severely impact your overall business operations.On the other hand, consider a more severe scenario like a cyberattack that unleashes a virus across your entire company's hardware. This isn't just about restoring a few lost files—it's about recovering a whole infrastructure. That's where a disaster recovery (DR) plan comes into play. A DR plan outlines the steps needed to recover not just data, but your entire IT infrastructure, enabling your business to get back up and running with minimal damage.In short, backups are great for small-scale data loss incidents, while disaster recovery plans are essential for larger-scale disruptions. Both work together to ensure your business can withstand and recover from both minor and major disruptions.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Support from Everound

While backups and disaster recovery serve distinct purposes, they both play a crucial role in your overall data protection strategy. Balancing these two elements can be complex, but it's vital to ensuring the resilience and continuity of your business.As a managed IT services provider (MSP), we are committed to helping businesses navigate the intricacies of data protection. Our team of experienced IT professionals can help you create a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy that includes robust data backup measures tailored to your unique business needs. Don't leave your business vulnerable to data loss or system failures.Contact us today and let us guide you in building a secure and resilient IT infrastructure for your business. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.