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What’s the difference between Backup & Disaster Recovery?

IT departments around the globe are realizing the significance of backup and disaster recovery. Experts are also constantly emphasizing on the necessity of a reliable recovery plan to ensure that operations continue without disruption. Enterprises simply cannot tolerate interruption in their businesses because it damages the brand reputation and reduces productivity and profitability. Therefore, Enterprises are continuously migrating to cloud backup solutions that can ensure business continuity.

As enterprises explore the diverse range of solutions available to them it is necessary that enterprises understand that backup and disaster recovery (DR) are two different solutions. Normally, the two are mentioned together because an effective reliable plan needs to have both solutions in them. However, cloud backup does not translate into an effective DR plan as well. 

Fundamental Difference between Backup & Disaster Recovery

Backup is simply the creation of copies of your data on backup appliances, traditional backup infrastructure and/or on the cloud. In case of deletion of data, you can restore it using this backup. However, this backup is not something you can rely on in case of a disaster (both man-made and natural).

Natural disasters can physically damage your backup infrastructure and pose a serious threat to your on-premise backups. Man-made disasters come in many forms like ransomware, malware, viruses and more. Many ransomware are capable of residing within a system, monitor not just the sensitive data but also the backups. When it surfaces, the ransomware locks the original data and the backups. In this case, backups are no longer useful and a disaster recovery plan is absolutely necessary.

A DR plan focuses on two main factors: Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). In order to effectively devise a DR plan, data analysis is essential. Enterprises need to understand the access frequency tiers of their data and the significance of their data. These factors determine the value of RTOs and RPOs. DR decides what enterprises need to do in times of a disaster and it focuses on the recovery of data. DR ensures that when a ransomware successfully locks or deletes mission critical data, it can be recovered. Another form of DR is instant failover.

Enterprises that provide services that cannot tolerate disruption need a recovery solution that facilitates instant failover. An instant failover has to replicate the entire IT environment after which in case of a failure of the original, the replica continues the operations while the original is recovered.


Backup and disaster recovery are two necessary solutions for enterprises. The two are usually lumped together but there are fundamental differences between the two. Backup deals with creation of copies that can be restores. DR deals with recoverability of data in accordance to a pre-devised plan. Both solutions are of equal significance. The typical IT strategy is to keep DR as a low priority; however, in light of the recent security breaches and data losses, this strategy is very risky.  

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