Even though the lines have been blurring between Backup and Disaster Recovery, there is still a clear distinction between the two. Knowing the difference between Backup and Disaster Recovery might turn out to be of paramount importance for your business, as in most cases, one does not replace the other.
Let's start with the basics, what is Backup Recovery?
A Backup is a separate, offline copy of customer data, backed up in such a way that it cannot be directly corrupted by malware or hacking attempts (i.e. it is not a simple network that a live server can access). Backups can be configured to retain multiple versions (e.g. daily, weekly, yearly) and, when necessary, you can restore just a single file without having to restore the entire backup.
There are some requirements and notions to keep in mind when dealing with Backup & Recovery:
- Backups can only be restored to a running machine.
- Backup & Recovery protects you of data loss, it does not protect you against downtime.
- Restoring a backup is not instantaneous. It takes a considerable amount of time to rebuild the backup, extract it to working infrastructure, and make it ready to boot again. Actually, in most business environments, it's going to take A DAY or more to recover.
- Cloud Backup is currently the most reliable backup option.
DR solutions keep a copy of the virtual machine, kept in a ready-to-boot state. In other words, Disaster Recovery replicates your entire computing unit - systems, data, networks, and applications - making it available when your primary environment is facing downtime.
- Test Environment.DR solutions often offer you a sandbox-type environment for testing upgrades, patches, or any other software changes. So, you can boot a secondary environment, one that mirrors your existing infrastructure, and make test modifications before implementing anything on your live environment.
- Data Loss. So, your live environment is operational, but you have experienced corruption of data, or data loss. Recovering huge volumes of data from your backup might be quite time-consuming, so relying on a DR solution would be the more efficient method of restoring data..
- Maintenance Issues. You need to do planned maintenance or perform migrations, but don't want to face any downtime. Easy, just failover to a recovery environment, and host your apps and services there for a while.
Think of your primary environment and data as a train with wagons, steaming to its destination. The locomotive engine is your primary system, while data are the wagons that are being hauled. You can always stop, replace a wagon, or haul additional ones, but if your locomotive engine fails you're not going anywhere. Now, think of Disaster Recovery as an emergency locomotive that steams along behind your train, ready to step in and run things while you service your main engine.
One more thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to face a disaster to make use of a DR solution.
Some figures to keep in mind:
- Around 77% of businesses are fairly confident of full data recovery, BUT 49% are going to need a day to recover.
- About 47% of companies experienced an outage or downtime last year.
- An astonishing 95% of businesses have experienced outages for reasons unrelated to natural disasters.
Whether you opt for Backup and Recovery or Disaster Recovery, be sure to test and check your backup system regularly to ensure that it is operational at all times. Additionally, test whether your data can be restored quickly and accurately, running through all disaster scenarios and ensuring system effectiveness.