What’s the Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery and business continuity may seem like the same thing, but they have some important differences that impact how a business bounces back after a significant IT event.
Generally, a business continuity plan focusses on keeping a business operational throughout a disaster using a set of predefined protocols and solutions that ensure your services stay running and your doors stay open.
A disaster recovery plan addresses the disruptive event more specifically with a focus on mitigating the effects of the issue by recovering data, restoring applications and systems, restoring infrastructure that has failed, and so forth.
Essentially, a business continuity plan keeps day-to-day business running while your disaster recovery plan is busy restoring your organisation’s IT assets behind the scenes.
Isn’t Data Backup Enough?
Many businesses realise the importance of robust data management and the need to have their data backed up securely in the event of a cyberattack, malicious activity or even a simple mistake made by an employee – but the reality is that data backup just isn’t enough. Here’s why:
- Most organisations back up their data once a day. But a lot can happen in a day, and losing an entire day’s work can be a significant setback.
- Data backup processes can fail – or be forgotten. With focus on busy day-to-day operations, it’s easy for data backup to be forgotten. By the time a disaster occurs, your last backup may have been days, weeks or even months ago. Do you know when your last backup occurred? And would you know if the process had failed or succeeded?
- Many businesses have data backup plans – but aren’t sure what they are saving. It’s essential to make sure that your data backup processes are actually saving copies of what they are meant to save. Many businesses that are struck by a disaster have a sense of relief that they have been saving their data each day, only to find that critical files are not there.
- Onsite data backup can be compromised too. Many smaller businesses choose to manage their data backup onsite because this keeps control over sensitive data within the business. However, this system is more easily compromised than a cloud-based backup system, and can be hit by the same disaster that has affected your IT network.
- Data backup is not a quick process. Restoring your organisation’s data from the backup system can be a lengthy process, especially if you only backup raw data. Servers, operating systems and applications will all need to be rebuilt before you can get back to business.
Won’t Insurance Cover My Losses?
Business insurance policies are important parts of disaster recovery plans, but they won’t necessarily cover all your losses or help you to recover quickly. They tend to focus on loss of inventory and equipment, and not:
- Financial losses – Lost profits, reduced market share, loss of productivity, stalled business plans and projects, and missed opportunities for earnings.
- Loss of reputation – Losses due to being unable to fulfil client and supplier orders or damage to your brand (for example, if a data breach exposed sensitive customer financial information, there will be a loss of consumer trust).
Making Business Continuity a Priority
Business continuity is an over-arching plan that is developed specifically for your business and the challenges it faces. It brings together different elements like data backup, insurance, policies and more to ensure you have a plan that can be instantly implemented when a disaster strikes, whether it’s a bush fire, a massive plumbing failure or a cybersecurity breach.
6 Steps to Create Your Business Continuity Plan
- Develop the scope of the plan
- Identify key areas of your business
- Identify critical functions of your business
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function (this differs from business to business)
- Map out dependencies between different business units
- Develop a plan to maintain day-to-day operations
This plan should include an emergency checklist of critical information, keeping everything from the location of data backups and backup sites to key personnel and IT partners in one place.
Once your business continuity plan has been developed, it is critical to test it and update it regularly, whether through a simple table-top exercise, a structured walkthrough or even a full disaster simulation test. Plan credible, challenging scenarios and run through the plan, looking for areas of confusion, missed opportunities or problems in order to ensure that it will fulfil its intended purpose. This also raises awareness of what to do and how to do it, helping members of your organisation to act quickly and confidently when disaster strikes.
Find an Effective Partner in Disaster Preparedness
An experienced IT security provider like Otto IT has the experience, expertise and solutions in place to provide clients with comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity planning. We work specifically with small to medium sized businesses seeking affordable, effective solutions that fit within their operational scope and budget, and work expensively in the financial and accounting, medical clinic, education and property sectors. For more information, please contact us today.