Backup Vs. Recovery: 5 Differences Between Data Backups and Disaster Recovery

backup vs recovery

backup vs recoveryBetween 2005 and 2015, almost 41% of all data breaches were the result of lost devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. That is not unusual considering every 53 seconds a laptop is stolen and over 70 million cell phones are lost annually.

That is not even considering the other myriads of ways that data can be lost. To be truly safe, you need to invest in both data backups and disaster recovery.

While many people think these are the same, they actually provide different services. We want to help you understand the differences between backup vs recovery.

Keep reading to learn five ways backup and recovery differ.

Defining Backup Vs Recovery

While backup and recovery are similar, there are marked differences that are important to every business whether they are large or small.


Backup occurs when the data is copied onto a secondary form, such as an archive file. You can then access this file to restore the original file should the information be lost or stolen.

Every business should have a backup strategy to protect them against hackers, thieves, and other unplanned events, such as an employee spilling coffee on their computer.

Disaster Recovery

What is disaster recovery? It is a security planning model. Companies use the model as a backup strategy to protect their business from natural or human-caused disasters.

A good IT disaster recovery model helps maintain critical functions before, during, and after a disastrous event. This process helps ensure minimal disruption to the business.

1. Data Retention Requirements

A backup retention requirement is basic. Most businesses create a plan to perform a backup on a daily basis. This process ensures that they always have the latest information retained in a single location.

Disaster Recovery is More Complex

With disaster recovery, it is more complex. You will need a recovery time objective (RTO) in order to determine the most amount of time your business can exist without access to your IT systems after a disaster.

You should also identify which key systems your business cannot do without and how much (if any) data you can afford to lose. It is also important to determine whether your disaster recovery system takes over manually or automatically.

Traditionally, most businesses utilize at least one duplicate of their IT infrastructure kept at a secondary location. This duplication allows for replication between the production and disaster recovery site.

2. The Planning Process

It is relatively easy to plan a backup routine. Especially since your goal is to meet your recovery point objective and retain your data.

Many businesses choose to use more than one strategy to back up their data. Some different types of backup solutions are:

  • Local Backup
  • Offsite Backup
  • Online Backup
  • Remote Backup
  • Cloud Backup
  • Full Backup
  • Incremental Backup
  • Differential Backup
  • Mirror Backup
  • FTP Backup

Planning Process for Disaster Recovery

Designing a complete disaster recovery strategy involves a lot more planning. That is because disaster recovery is the umbrella where your backups should reside.

You will need to determine which systems you consider to be critical because you are preparing for a worst-case scenario. That means appointing someone to be in charge of getting your applications back online.

Decide Who and What Gets Managed

You will need a plan to figure out how to manage customers relations, especially if the disaster is the result of a data breach.

Create a recovery order, communication process, and devise a method to test if the strategy works effectively.

3. Ability to Recover Data

Backups are great if you need immediate access to the system in order to restore a specific document. However, it will not help you much should your entire infrastructure become compromised.

Backups also do not include any of the physical resources you will need to bring all your data back online in order to continue operating your business as usual.

Disaster recovery allows you to have a secondary source where all your information is stored and has the hardware to access it. Should a disaster strike, you will not lose your business continuity.

4. Necessary Additional Resources

With backup, the only thing you need is a way to copy your data so you can restore it to the original source. Typically businesses choose from the following to back up their data:

  • UBS stick
  • External hard drive
  • Time machine
  • Network attached storage
  • Cloud storage
  • Printing

Disaster Recovery is Maintained in a Separate Environment

With disaster recovery, you are required to obtain a separate production environment where all of your data can safely exist. Consider all aspects of that environment including:

  • Software
  • Connectivity
  • Security
  • Physical resources

Securing your data is highly important. Often, more than one strategy is required in order to keep your information safe from hackers, such as:

  • Installing operating system updates
  • Creating difficult passwords
  • Securing your wireless network
  • Using a firewall

Securing your data is one area where you should not try to save money. It often takes months before a business notices a security breach and it is expensive to fix. The average cost of a stolen record is $148.

5. Data Recovery is Useful for Other Types of Disasters

Having a backup is great if you need to pull up a particular document quickly. That works great if an employee accidentally loses a file.

However, in many cases, the issue is a lot bigger than needing access to a few files. Implementing a backup and recovery plan together ensures that your business will not be left scrambling in the event of a disaster.


With a good disaster recovery provider, you have access to a virtual private cloud where you can test your system. It will not affect your live environment.

Hosting Applications and Services

You will also have access to hosting applications and services during any planned maintenance or migrations.

Disaster Recovery and Backup as One Package

You can also use a system where disaster recovery and backup are part of the same package.

Ability to Keep Large Data Off-Site

Should a data loss occur, disaster recovery allows you to avoid sending huge volumes of data back to your primary data center.

Schedule a Free Assessment

While backup vs recovery is different, it is important that every business implement both strategies to ensure their data stays safe, secure, and available. Creating this process is not an issue you can wait on.

It is also hard to assess your strengths and weaknesses on your own. We can help. Click here to schedule your free network assessment.

Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.