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Data Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What’s the Difference?” – Part 1: Defining These Terms

November 17, 2014 / Scott Kinka

Data Backup, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity… these terms are used interchangeably today. At Evolve IP, we commonly find ourselves helping to educate our audience on the differences between these three terms, and other terms associated with them. That’s why we recently conducted a public Webinar on the topic: “Data Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What’s the Difference?”<p?

Unlike a traditional webinar we utilized a “round table discussion” format with our CTO Scott Kinka as the moderator and our Manager of Cloud Computing Neill Reidy and Design Engineer, Cloud Computing Eric Dougherty participating.

During the presentation, our subject matter experts started by discussing what each of those three terms means, starting from the most basic of these terms, data backup. So, what are we actually getting when we refer to data backup? And where does it end?

A data backup is the result of copying files and folders to a different location for the purpose of being able to restore them in case of data loss. What we mean by “location” could be another server in the same room / building; tapes; a secondary data center / branch office or the cloud. What we mean by data loss could be a server crash; accidentally deleted file (human error); corruption or a larger event.

So, what is disaster recovery and how is it different than Data Backup? Disaster Recovery (DR) involves a set of policies and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natural or human-induced incident or disaster. “Disasters” are usually referring to flood, fire, extended data/power loss – not typically a single server / system loss. Disaster recovery focuses on the IT or technology systems supporting critical business functions.

So DR opens up the technology stack to focus on getting the business running not just saving its data. Let’s look at Business Continuity. BC is the planning, preparatory and related activities which are intended to ensure that an organization’s critical business functions will continue to operate. Notice that the word “technology” does not appear in the definition! It includes the DR plan as a portion of it and focuses on the planning, preparatory and related activities which are intended to ensure that an organization’s critical business functions will either continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise have interrupted them, or will be recovered to an operational state within a reasonably short period. With BC, all departments in your organization are stakeholders, not just the IT department.

For more information on the differences, and more, you can view our entire webinar discussion, which was videotaped.

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