Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

Disaster Recovery

It’s common in many industries to use the terms disaster recovery and business continuity interchangeably. The confusion likely stems from similarities in planning for a disaster and planning for a disruption that may impact your ability to conduct business. However, these two terms don’t quite mean the same thing.

The Difference Between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery is a term that refers to planning a business can enact when responding to a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster, fire, act of terrorism, or an active shooter. Disaster planning requires the business to determine the responses required to ensure that the company can return to safe and normal operations quickly.

Business continuity refers to planning a business can do to determine how to proceed during and following a disaster. It often includes developing contingency plans and a plan for continuing operations even if the company has to move to an alternate location. In addition, business continuity planning often includes events not covered by a disaster plan, such as planning for extended power outages or minor disruptions.

As you can see, disaster planning is a subset of business continuity planning. However, a business continuity plan often includes far more information that may be relevant in many more scenarios than would be covered in a disaster plan.

When companies face difficult challenges, it’s crucial to have the proper plans to guide and coordinate multiple efforts to restore business quickly. Both business continuity plans and disaster plans are important. Without these plans, the outage or downtime following an event may be prolonged, contributing to additional financial losses. Longer downtimes can also be associated with increased risks, particularly sensitive data that may not be as protected during these instances.

While both planning for a disaster and planning for business continuity involves efforts to deal with sudden events, there are some key distinctions between the two terms, including the following:

  • Business continuity emphasizes keeping the business operational during and after a disaster. On the other hand, disaster recovery focuses on restoring data access and IT infrastructure after a disaster. Therefore, business continuity looks at the broad picture and determines how to keep the business operational even under distressing conditions. At the same time, disaster planning focuses on returning operations to normal as quickly as possible.
  • Disaster recovery often involves measures designed to keep employees safe. In addition, these plans may instruct the company to prepare for a disaster by conducting fire drills or procuring emergency supplies. With both plans working together, the company shows an interest in protecting the team and the company’s productivity.
  • The goals of disaster planning and business continuity planning are different. Disaster planning limits abnormal or inefficient system functions, while business continuity planning limits downtime.
  • Disaster planning focuses on efforts to get back to full functionality after a disaster. Business continuity plans frequently also include directions on communication methods used during an emergency. For instance, if your primary method of communication is impacted, a business continuity plan may consist of direction on how to maintain other channels of communication, allowing the company to stay open in some capacity.
  • Disaster recovery plans are usually a small – but vital – part of larger business continuity plans.
  • Business continuity plans frequently include an inventory and plans for all critical assets, such as staff, suppliers, vehicles, and buildings. On the other hand, a disaster recovery plan only keeps an inventory of IT assets, such as servers and network equipment.
  • A business continuity plan will look at macro-level business impact analyses, while a disaster recovery plan only assesses threats to IT infrastructure.
  • A business continuity plan proactively attempts to prevent and prepare for a disaster. In contrast, a disaster plan is reactive and contains only information and instructions that would be required after a disaster has taken place.

These differences illustrate the precise nature of distinguishing between business continuity planning and disaster planning. Business continuity planning is a strategy taken to ensure continuity of operations while minimizing downtime. On the other hand, disaster recovery planning is focused on restoring data and critical applications when IT systems are impacted by a disaster.

Therefore, comprehensive planning often requires that your company has both plans, with the disaster recovery plan as a component of a more comprehensive business continuity plan. However, the scope of a disaster recovery plan may be impacted by how much of your business is conducted online. For instance, if most of your company’s transactions are digital, you must focus on data protection since losing data would impact your operations more than it would for companies with non-digital transactions. To learn more about disaster recovery planning and business continuity planning, contact Sagacent Technologies today.

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.