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Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery: What's the Difference?

Business continuity and disaster recovery are preemptive plans that guide businesses during a crisis like natural disasters, power outages, technological failure, and cyber incidents. A business continuity plan (BCP) helps you to keep your business running in the face of a crisis while disaster recovery strategies aid you in rapidly restoring your business operations to full capacity following a disaster. 

Both these plans go hand-in-hand to cushion the impact of catastrophic events on your business. However, the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery indicates that your business should have both these plans to better deal with disruptive scenarios.

Let's understand what is a business continuity and disaster recovery plan, their importance, must-haves, and distinctions.

What is a business continuity and disaster recovery plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) lays down the steps on how to continue running business operations when hit with natural calamities, extended power cuts, and cyber intrusions among other catastrophic events. The continuity plan typically contains details about recovery personnel contact information, essential business activities, backup locations, actions to reduce the impact of the disaster, etc.

On the other hand, a disaster recovery (DR) plan focuses on how to respond to natural disasters, power surges, cyber-attacks, and other incidents. Its objective is to quickly restore the company database to bring business activities back to normal after an unfortunate event. Your disaster recovery plan should list all procedures and technologies to resume your business operations as early as possible following a disruptive event.it business man in network server room have problems and looking for  disaster situation  solution

Difference between business continuity and disaster recovery

Business continuity and disaster recovery are interdependent and overlap in many ways. For instance, both are proactive plans to respond to sudden disruptive incidents like cyberattacks and natural disasters to save businesses from losses. Be it BCP or a disaster recovery plan, both require timely review and revision to suit changing business needs.

Nonetheless, a deep dive into business continuity vs disaster recovery will help us determine the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery.

Business Continuity Vs Disaster Recovery

The major difference between business continuity and disaster recovery is the objectives of both these plans. A business continuity plan details how your business can maintain its operations during disasters or cyber intrusions. On the contrary, a disaster recovery plan summarizes how to recover your data, servers, files, software applications, and operating systems in order to restore your business operations back to normal after it is struck by a catastrophe. 

These two plans also differ in their functioning. Business continuity is aimed at reducing operational downtime while disaster recovery is focused on repairing affected systems to achieve maximum operational efficiency at the earliest. Moreover, unlike a business continuity plan, disaster recovery planning includes employee safety measures like organizing fire drills and buying equipment to deal with emergencies.

Why is business continuity and disaster recovery planning important?

Disruption in business can be a costly affair. IDC estimates that an infrastructure failure costs USD $100,000 per hour on average while a critical application failure can amount to $USD $500,000 to USD $1 million in losses every hour. A business continuity plan will help you minimize downtime and curb losses. 

Fiscal losses due to disruptive events also slow down company growth. Businesses might lose critical data during outages which only amplifies the losses. Overall, disruptions damage customer experience harming the bottom line of the business. Disaster recovery acts as a compass guiding businesses to bounce back to normal operations in a short time reducing the impact of a crisis.

A business continuity and disaster recovery plan combined can save your business from significant losses in catastrophic events and help you in better crisis management.

The must-haves of A business continuity and disaster recovery plan

The major components of a business continuity plan are: 

  • Day-to-day operations - Include strategies you use to run your day-to-day business activities. 
  • Employee roles - Highlight who should do what when a disruptive event strikes to keep the business running. 
  • Data availability - Mention necessary software, data, and applications to continue business activities and procedures to keep the resources available in catastrophic scenarios. 
  • Required processes and technology - Keep a list of requirements including systems, networks, and technology that power critical business processes. 
  • Secondary facility - Record the essentials necessary to set up a secondary working site in case the primary facility is damaged.

What should you include in your disaster recovery plan?

A typical disaster recovery document should include: 

  • Goals - Highlight all the primary goals of your disaster recovery plan. 
  • Employee data - Keep a record of employees that are tasked with data processing and management. 
  • Application checklist - Create a list of your business applications and their importance in your business operations. 
  • Inventory list - Record your hardware equipment details such as their model, cost, leased or owned, etc. 
  • Backup procedures - Document how to make changes to the code or hardware configurations as well as where to find the manuals to proceed with the restoration. 
  • Disaster recovery measures - Write down a clear emergency response plan to combat fire, natural disasters, and other incidents. Make sure you have mentioned how to back up data and associated recovery procedures to restore business activities.
  • Alternative site details - Include where to shift your business operations when needed and how to rebuild your affected primary site. It should include a data center floor plan,  electrical requirements, security arrangements, etc.

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