data backup vs disaster recovery

Data Backups and Disaster Recovery: What They Are, Why They Matter and How They Work Together

Author Picture

One minute, you’re putting the finishing touches on a big project for a client and after weeks of hard work and dedication, you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’ve poured your heart and soul into this enterprise and you can’t wait to see the look on that client’s face when they realize you’ve successfully brought their vision to life.

The next minute, the file is gone. Frantically, you search for the reason and that’s when it hits you. Your hard drive failed. Every last kilobyte of data on that machine – including that project – is now gone, seemingly forever.

This is the type of situation that can happen to anyone, but it’s also one that you can be proactive about. But when it comes to avoiding “worst-case scenarios” like that one, do you need a data backup strategy or a disaster recovery strategy to get you back on your feet again?

Thankfully, the answer to that question is a straightforward one:

You actually need both for two totally separate reasons.

Data Backups and Disaster Recovery: Breaking Things Down

In a way, it can be helpful to think of data backups and disaster recovery as two sides of the same coin. Yes, they’re both concerned with making sure that data loss – either from accidental deletion, corruption or some other type of catastrophe – isn’t something you have to worry about any longer.

HOW they do that, however, is where these two concepts start to truly differ.

Defining a Data Backup

In the simplest possible terms, data backups are all about retaining data in a single location and are usually performed on a daily basis (or at least), they should be. This is something we all do, both at work and in our personal lives. You make a copy of that important project you’ve been working on for a client on a network attached storage (NAS) drive, thus making sure it’s accessible in two locations in case something should happen to one of the files. If you go to review the file two hours before you have to hand it off to the client and realize that you’ve deleted it from your primary computer, you can still recover it quickly from the NAS.

Defining Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery, on the other hand, is all about the bigger picture – meaning that instead of simply safeguarding one file or even a directory, you’re creating a duplicate of your ENTIRE infrastructure. This includes not only data but also things like settings, software, server and network configurations and more.

Because of this, a disaster recovery strategy also has to be built with your recovery time objective in mind – otherwise known as your RTO. This is the minimum amount of time that you can sustain downtime before the costs become too overwhelming for your business to deal with.

So if you have an RTO of one hour after a disaster, your disaster recovery strategy will be designed in a way that allows you to get back up and running within an hour like nothing ever happened.

In addition to RTO, you’ll want to define RPO: recovery point objective. Recovery Point Objective “RPO” limits how far to roll back in time, and defines the maximum allowable amount of lost data measured in time from a failure occurrence to the last valid backup. It should define how much data are you willing to lose. For example, if you perform backups once a day, your RPO would be 24 hours maximum depending on when your last backup occurred and when you failed.

From that perspective, it may be helpful to think about things like this: backups are really designed for immediate access in case you need to restore a particular document or directory. You’re copying information from Point A to Point B, guaranteeing that you always have access to a perfect version of the file in the event that you need it.

But if your entire business burns to the ground, those data backups aren’t going to help you on your own. In that scenario, you don’t just need to know where your duplicate data is stored. You need to know HOW you’re going to failover your total environment to a secondary location. You need to know which physical resources are going to be required to bring everything back online. You need to know which processes you’ll need to go through to pick back up again at a new location and remain productive as if nothing ever happened in the first place.

That, in essence, is what a disaster recovery strategy is all about. That’s also what we mean when we say that these two concepts are two sides of the same coin. For the absolute best results, you need BOTH a data backup AND a disaster recovery strategy that is perfectly built and optimized with your own unique needs in mind.

In an era where the average cost of IT downtime comes in at a staggering $5,600 per minute according to Gartner, you need to be protected against issues both large and small. Information redundancies and data backups are how you successfully account for the former. The right disaster recovery strategy, as the name implies, is how you tackle the latter.

Find out How to Identify Critical Data for Your Business and how Cloud Technology Makes Disaster Recovery Possible for All Businesses.

The Outer Edge Technology Approach

At Outer Edge Technology, we’ve been helping companies handle their backup and disaster recovery needs – among other important matters – for well over a decade. By not only designing but also building and managing technology solutions and data centers for organizations like yours, we’re able to create an innovative alignment between your IT and your larger corporate strategy that would be difficult – and in many cases, impossible – to achieve on your own.

Because every business has its own unique needs, there truly is no “one size fits all” approach to data backups OR disaster recovery. Only by considering your specific requirements, your goals, and your challenges will you be able to help make sure these two critical concepts not only work well, but work well together. Truly, we’d love nothing more than the opportunity to do precisely that on your behalf.

If you’d like to find out more information about the differences between data backups and disaster recovery, or if you have any additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Outer Edge Technology today by calling 1-844-OET-EDGE or emailing

About The Author

Speak With a Business IT Expert Today

Call us at 844-OET-EDGE or simply fill out the form below and we’ll contact you shortly!

Contact Us

Humans to study and evolve the physical elements that are present in their lives.

Send email
201 King of Prussia Road, Suite 650
Radnor, PA 19087

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are set through our site by our advertising partners.

Google Tag Manager
We use Google Tag Manager to monitor our traffic and to help us AB test new features.

Decline all Services
Accept all Services
Scroll to Top