Skip to main content

What’s the Difference Between Backups and Disaster Recovery?

By February 5, 2018September 18th, 2020Azure, Best Practices, Blog, datacenter, Microsoft
disaster recovery vs. data backup graphic how data backup is different from disaster recovery

A Disaster Recovery plan should be an integral part of any business’s IT strategy. With security breaches, attacks, and outages on the rise, you should have a plan and keep it current.

Many executives are misinformed about the protections they have. They believe that having data backup is adequate, and that having data backup is the same as having a Disaster Recovery Plan (DR).  Backup is a cornerstone strategy, but it’s a far cry from DR. A backup is only copies of your data, a DR plan is the system that makes sure you can actually perform a recovery.

There are a number of areas that make a Disaster Recovery plan different from a Backup:


Disaster recovery is the ability to fail over your primary environment to an alternative environment that can run your business. Backups provide rapid access to restoring files, but doesn’t provide any failover. Backups also do not provide the equipment required to bring the files online.

Data Retention

Backups are run daily to data retention and only copy data. A big part of DR is figuring out what your Recovery Time needs to look like.  That’s the maximum time your business can be without IT after a disaster. The ability to meet your Recovery Time requires that you’ve developed a duplicate IT infrastructure in a separate location to allow replication between your DR site and your production site.

Other Resources

Determining your backup frequency is easy and is based on data retention requirements. DR requires a separate “production class” environment that includes software, connectivity, security, and physical equipment.


Backup plans are easy, based on your retention policies. The Backup solution you use can automate most of this for you.  A DR plan requires additional planning including determining what’s mission critical, what order your recover resources, communications with your organization, and periodic testing to make sure it’ll work when it needs to.

I’ve seen data stating that nearly half of all businesses that close due to a disaster will NEVER REOPEN.  Having solid backups are essential, but if it takes weeks to recover, will you reopen?

Tim Krueger, PEI

Leave a Reply