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September 2, 2016
Pop quiz! What is the difference between a backup and disaster recovery?
Though the two are commonly used together, they are separate and distinct terms. Having a backup plan, backup solution, backup software, or even a backup vendor does not mean that you have a disaster recovery solution. Backups, as the name indicates, are merely a copy of what you have in your primary data stores (aka — your computer hard drives or your servers or perhaps both).
If you’ve got a really good backup solution, you might even have copies of your settings and configurations. This comprehensive backup is an excellent foundation for a solid disaster recovery plan, but still not true DR. What do you need to have a fully restorable disaster recovery solution?
Disaster Recovery Services Include the Ability to Fully Restore Data to Its Pre-Disaster State
There are two kinds of backups: updates and complete backups. Updates are merely a copy of the data that has been altered or added since the last backup. For example, it would include all the new files and folders you’ve created since your last backup, plus any that you opened, edited, and saved. But only a complete backup includes all of the files, folders, and other data, as well as archived or other older data.
A complete backup may or may not include things like security settings and system configurations, but a comprehensive disaster recovery plan will include those things. Backups are only as good as your last complete backup. A disaster recovery solution includes regular, comprehensive backups that can be restored at any time to put your operations back exactly as they were before the disaster occurred.
Disaster Recovery Services Include Offsite Data Storage
Backups can be a simple set of tapes stashed in a back broom closet or stowed in the corner of the data center. Unfortunately, any disaster that befalls your servers is almost certainly going to take out these backups, too. Only an offsite copy of your backups can be depended upon to be available and undamaged after disaster hits your data center. Whether the disaster is overheated equipment due to an AC failure, theft, vandalism, or an outright disaster like flood, fire, earthquake, or tornado — only a comprehensive offsite backup replete with a tested and proven disaster recovery plan can get you back to business.
Disaster Recovery Services Must be Tested & Updated Regularly
The final differentiation between backups and disaster recovery is that DR plans are tested, honed and refined until they work as planned, and reevaluated regularly to make sure they still meet the business’ needs. For instance, if you’ve added new software or changed hardware vendors, your DR plan needs to reflect the very latest version of your IT environment. Unless you can actually recover your data and resume operations as they were before the disaster (whatever that might be), you don’t have a full disaster recovery solution.
What do you need to know to maintain a strong, viable, productive IT department? Get your complimentary copy of Greg Hanna’s book ‘Computers Should Just Work!’ today.
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