Disaster Recovery and Backup provide business continuity against downtime caused by IT issues. Disaster Recovery provides access to a cloud network complete with up an up to date copy of mission critical data. Backup is a store of files and programs that must be manually installed onto the affected machine or machines.
Which is best for your company? Let’s take a look at the benefits of both Disaster Recovery and Backup. We’ll begin with Backup.
What is Backup?
In theory, Backup is a low-cost method of ensuring business continuity. However, the associated costs of bringing in expert help can spiral depending on the severity of the situation. Also, the potentially extended periods of time required to implement a backup scheme must be taken into consideration.
How Does Backup Work?
In an effort to minimise the effects of IT related downtime, a company may choose to store and maintain an on-site copy of mission critical data. Uploads to this backup hard drive are typically made each day (sometimes several times per day) to ensure that a close to real time copy of files and systems is maintained. Following a catastrophic disaster that prevents access to data (e.g. server failure), installing this copy of data may prove a smoother method of business continuity than resolving the IT issue and re-gaining access to the original files or systems.
For example, where a simple file corruption leads to a faulty file that cannot be opened, a backup copy of this data can replace the corrupted file in a matter of minutes and business output may continue. However, where the IT issues affect many machines (or even the entire network), a Backup recovery plan would require on-site technical staff to perform a large scale replacement of files - which could involve remastering machines where the issues prevent any other route forward. This can take time, and the associated costs of downtime (along with the costs of technical staff) can mount up.
Disaster Recovery - Explained
Disaster Recovery (DR) refers to a cloud based copy of mission critical files and systems that can be accessed in the event of on site IT issues such as a server failure. This allows business output to continue via the cloud, meaning work may proceed as usual throughout the duration of the repairs to the user’s on-site network.
How Does Disaster Recovery Work?
DR is usually outsourced to a professional data recovery service provider, although other options are available. The agreement between the provider and the user will typically highlight the permitted number of daily uploads, along with expected recovery times and the order in which files and systems will be made available to the user. For example, access to email, client files, and essential systems are normally regarded as high priority. Other data that is considered to be of lesser importance (e.g. legacy data) is given a lower importance, meaning no time is wasted bringing this unneeded information online.
Employing cloud based offsite Disaster Recovery specialists is the preferred method of business continuity chosen by medium and large sized businesses that place a high value on keeping downtime to a minimum. Outsourcing in this way means that the service user does not need to employ permanent on-site technical staff and does not need to allocate appropriate space to house the necessary IT infrastructure.
Alternatively, a company may wish to host its off site Disaster Recovery solution in what is known as a Colocation or ‘colo’. This is where certain aspects of physically storing data are catered for (such as space, power, heating), but members of technical staff are not provided. This means that when a disaster occurs, the service user must source and fund the necessary technical staff to perform the duties associated with DR.
Data Recovery vs Backup - Which is Best?
Each company must carry out its own assessment of the probable economic impact of downtime. Where the cost of downtime is deemed great enough to warrant the the involvement of third party Disaster Recovery specialists, this option should be taken. In reality, this is the option chosen by medium to large to sized businesses.
However, where the costs of downtime are not deemed to be great enough to warrant an investment in offsite DR services, Backup is a low-cost way to ensure that an acceptable degree of business continuity is maintained. This is the option usually taken by small business enterprises that do not anticipate any negative effects from a delay in the availability of online services (e.g. a self-employed part time graphic designer with a small number of clients).