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Backups vs. Disaster Recovery: What's the Difference?

Nathan Distel
11/18/2020
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People often think of disaster recovery and backups as basically the same thing. While there are some similarities between the two, they’re actually distinct concepts. In order to really protect your business, it’s important to understand their differences and how they both fit into an overall IT strategy.

What are Data Backups?

Think of a backup as an extra copy (or multiple copies) of your data. It protects your data and stores it in case you ever need to recover files, folders or even entire systems.

There are lots of reasons you might need to use your data backups. Someone accidentally deletes an essential file. A database becomes corrupted. A software upgrade runs into problems. A hacker uses ransomware to encrypt your data. And the list goes on. It’s vitally important that all of your data is regularly backed up.

What is Disaster Recovery?

If data backups are the “what,” disaster recovery is the “how.” Having a backup means you can recover your data if you need to. But HOW are you going to recover your data and systems and get your organization up and running after an outage?

That’s where disaster recovery comes in. It includes the plans and processes to follow so you can regain access and functionality after an event like a natural disaster, cyberattack, power loss or some other business disruption.

A disaster recovery plan helps you quickly reconnect to your applications, data and IT resources after an outage. It might involve switching over to a redundant set of servers and storage systems until your main system is functional again.

How They Work Together

Backups are simply data recovery. A backup is more for file-based recovery. If someone accidentally deletes or moves a file, a backup allows you to recover that. Backups don’t provide you a complete, quick recovery of important things like your full system, LOB apps or file management that disaster recovery does.

Disaster recovery is data recovery AND system recovery. Devices like servers do more than just store your files. They run user management and network management functions like addressing, routing, computer polices and Line of Business (LOB) applications. You can restore the data for your LOB application but that does you no good if you don’t have a way to restore the application as well.

Imagine this scenario. A system does go down at your business. You have your data backups you can recover from, BUT you still have to fix the system, do the full recovery of the data, and then verify that everything’s working. Disaster recovery provides the plan to get the data recovered and get the system back up and running in the most efficient way possible. It also allows you to spin up another system or virtual environment so you can continue to function while you conduct the data recovery and repairs.

Your Business Needs Both

Ask yourself what you’re able to go without as an organization. Can you conduct business if you don’t have your files? Your server running your user management? Your network functionality? Your LOB apps? I’m betting your answer is no.

Both backups and disaster recovery are crucial – they play a key role in cybersecurity and impact your financial bottom line.

With threats like hacking, system resource attacks, and ransomware, backups can’t always save your data and systems. What’s even scarier is that many of these attacks are now going after your backups to ensure you can’t recover without paying the ransom. Thankfully, disaster recovery solutions have you covered with separate systems and encrypted data that can’t be accessed through those attacks.

Looking at the situation from a financial standpoint, can you afford to lose the money from being down for a day or two because you lost all access to your systems or data? While implementing backup and disaster recovery solutions might seem a bit pricey at the outset, just think of how costly downtime can be for your business. In the long run, you’ll invest less money than what an extended period of downtime would cost you.

Don’t put off bringing backups and disaster recovery to your business. Here at Elevity, we have the industry experience to help you select and deploy the right solutions for your organization. We’re ready to help you keep your business running safely and smoothly.

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