Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: What’s the Difference

According to Coveware, ransomware alone can cause over 16 days of downtime. Many small businesses would have a hard time recovering from over two weeks of zero revenue coming in.

That’s why understanding your solutions to these threats – like business continuity vs disaster recovery and specific solutions – is vital to preventing this disastrous outcome.

Now, the term disaster can mean a variety of things. Here are a few examples:

  • Cybersecurity attacks
  • Hardware/software failure
  • Power outages
  • Employe mistakes
  • Natural disasters, such as: hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes

When it comes to disasters, business owners must expect the unexpected. It is absolutely critical to have up-to-date guidelines in place, so your business can adapt and begin recovering the moment disaster strikes.

This article will help you understand business continuity vs disaster recovery, the differences between them, and why having both systems in place is vital to your business.

Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a framework that allows your business operations to continue to operate should a natural disaster or cyberattack occur.

While a BCP must look at the business as a whole, it must also focus on very specific scenarios that can affect your operations.

For example, if you are a small business with its head office situated in Oklahoma, your BCP will cover all of the normal cyberattack threats that any company may face. This is in addition to accounting for tornadoes, which are common in that region. A business in New York wouldn’t need to worry about tornadoes, but would have other New York-specific concerns.

Your BCP should identify the critical functions of your business, which systems must be sustained, and how to sustain them. Here is a helpful list of questions your BCP should answer:

  1. How will a department function if PCs, email, internet or servers are unavailable?
  2. What is our tolerance for downtime and/or data loss?
  3. How do we maintain key business processes during a disruption?
  4. Which staff members are needed during a disaster, and what duties will they perform?
  5. What skills or expertise do we need to recover?
  6. What are our supply chains and how do we keep them moving?
  7. How do we access invoices, in order to keep track of what we’re owed and what needs to be paid?

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Disaster Recovery

A disaster recovery plan (DRP), also known in IT as a network disaster recovery plan, is a set of steps businesses take in order to return to normal operation after disaster strikes.

DRPs often focus more specifically on things like restoring lost data and infrastructure failure. They should answer the question: ‘How do we get back to where we were before the crisis?’

As mentioned, DRPs usually focus on a business’s data and information systems. Both business continuity planning and disaster recovery plan do have some overlap, but also have divergent focuses. For instance, a DRP is much more interested in specifics regarding your data center and data backup plans.

A thorough disaster recovery plan should include:

  1. A prioritized inventory list of all hardware and software, and how to get them running.
  2. Key players in the event of a disaster, plus a list of roles and responsibilities for each person involved.
  3. Main and alternative methods of communication between team members.
  4. Work location in the event of an emergency, which might be working remotely or having a backup site for employees.
  5. If your IT is outsourced, determine what their responsibilities are and time it takes to have systems up again.
  6. Procedures to ensure sensitive information stays protected.

If your business does a lot of online transactions, data protection needs to be first priority. It’s strongly recommended to keep your data backed up on a server at an alternate site.

Your disaster recovery plan should include how to access the secondary server and backup systems as soon as possible.

As with the BCP, your disaster recovery plan should be fluid and updated periodically to ensure all information is accurate.

Disaster Recovery vs Business Continuity

Although many assume disaster recovery and business continuity are synonymous, there are distinct differences between the two.

For one, a BCP covers a broader scope of processes. It involves data analysis, risk assessment, prioritizing business functions, etc. BCPs are comprehensive and designed to cover almost any type of business disruption.

Disaster recovery is a more targeted approach. While a BCP provides the initial guidelines following a disaster, your DRP should eventually take over to ensure the business has a clear step-by-step plan to return to normal operations.

It’s important to note that companies should not rely too heavily on business insurance. Although your policy may cover property and equipment damage, the fallout from a security breach can be much worse.

Companies have faced multi-million dollar fines, sanctions, lost business licenses and severe damage to their reputation.

Be sure to run disaster simulations. This will put your recovery systems to the test, and tell you whether you’re equipped to handle the multitude of threats out there.


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Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
From an Expert

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Now that you’re able to identify the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery, it becomes less about BCP vs DRP and more about how they work harmoniously together.

As the old saying goes: by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Partner with VTC TECH, one of the leading managed IT service companies, and ensure that your business continuity plan and disaster recovery focuses on getting your business back to full functionality without missing a beat. Contact us today for details.

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