Backup VS Disaster Recovery

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In this blog, I am going to introduce you to two concepts. Those are backup and and a term called business continuity. 

As a business owner, it’s really important that you know what these two terms are and how  important they are to your business. But, crucially it’s important to know the difference between them.


Let’s first of all talk about backup. 

As a simple explanation, backup  is taking a copy of your data and putting it somewhere else just in case you need it at a later date. You might need your backup for a whole host of reasons.

  • Perhaps you have a word document and you’ve made a mistake and you need the old one back.
  • A second example could be that the computer you are using might have broken and you might need the backup to restore to your  new computer.
  • Or, more commonly these days,  you might suffer from a cyber attack like ransomware and you might need the backup of your good data before the attack happened. 

Backups are really important

When we talk about business, the importance of backups is much greater. 

You could have many years of information on a server or,  you might be using an application to run your entire business. If you didn’t have a backup for these things when you need one the most, then your business could be in serious trouble.

It’s estimated that over 70% of businesses go out of business within 12 months after suffering a major data loss. This is how important good backups are. 

What do you need to backup?

So, I have introduced the concept of backup. But if we look inside of your business, what exactly needs to be backed up? 


The first things that need to be backed up are obviously servers. 

Servers are important devices because they contain your data and applications. If you have a server in your office or in the cloud – then these need to be backed up regularly in case something happens and you need to restore.

Laptops and Computers

What about PC’s? Laptops? Do they need to be backed up too?

Computers within businesses should be configured so they don’t hold any data on them. Although people are working on the computers, all the data is actually in the cloud or on a server somewhere.

Take for example Microsoft 365 and Outlook. Outlook is installed on the computer and the emails appear to be installed on the computer too. But the actual data is in the Microsoft cloud. If your PC broke, you would still be able to access all of your emails on another computer. 

But occasionally, computers need to hold data

For example, we have a customer who uses computers to control large industrial machinery. If the computer is unavailable for any reason, then the machinery stops working. There is data stored on these computers and so they absolutely need to be backed up. 

Microsoft 365

And perhaps more surprisingly for people, if you’re using a cloud system like Microsoft 365, like lots of businesses are, then you also need to back that up too.

People are always surprised when I talk about the need to backup Microsoft 365.

Surely, Microsoft has us covered? Surely if we have an issue, Microsoft will back up the data for us?

Well, there are some things that Microsoft does cover you for. They look after the servers that your data is held on for example. But there are some things that they don’t cover you for,  like a cyber attack in your office. 

Microsoft actually recommends that all businesses should use a 3rd party backup for their Microsoft 365. 

So if you haven’t got that in place today, then you absolutely should do.

Introducing Business Continuity

So if that’s backup, what exactly is business continuity? Business continuity might also be known as disaster recovery.

To understand the differences between backup and DR, let’s look at this example.

You have a server in your office that runs your entire business. It has all of your files and folders and runs an application that everyone uses for billing and service management. 

One night, that server breaks. It doesn’t want to work anymore. Your entire IT for your business is now not working. Your staff are sitting around drinking cups of tea and you are losing money by the hour. 

But everything is OK, because you have a backup right?

What you would need  to do now is use your backup and restore the files/folders and applications. 

But the backup is huge and the process of restoring your data and getting your business back up and running doesn’t take 5 mins…. Or an hour…….. It could take hours or even days to get your IT up and running.

Can your business be without it’s IT system for days without it causing an impact?

Business Continuity Saves the Day

Well, that’s where disaster recovery, or business continuity comes in. 

With business continuity, you will have an up to date live system, in this example a duplicate of your server standing by, ready to jump into action.

When that server doesn’t want to work on that Monday morning, you can use the duplicate live system and your business can continue working whilst the faulty server is fixed.

The key difference between backup and business continuity is the time it takes for your business to get back up and running again.

Look at all of your Technology

So as a business, you have to look at every aspect of your technology – your emails, your files and folders, your applications, your telephone system.

Where are they stored and do you have a backup?

Is a backup sufficient? What happens if you need to restore, how long will it take?

How long can your business be without them before it causes a problem.

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