Backups vs. Disaster Recovery: What’s the Best Choice?

When considering how to protect critical business data,AdobeStock_103828443 the first question that companies often ask is: “which solution is the best choice, backups or disaster recovery (DR)”? While both solutions can help protect an organization's data and critical information against unplanned disruptions and outages, sometimes backups alone aren’t enough. It’s important to understand which strategy is best for your business needs, as the needs of every organization are different.

Below is a breakdown of what to expect from backups and disaster recovery solutions. This should help you decide which solution makes the most sense for your business to ensure business continuity remains intact, should your primary servers go down.


Remember in school when you had to write an important paper? You would save your work to a jump drive in case your computer crashed and you lost everything, right? In that situation, you were running a basic backup of your critical files.

Backups work by providing quick and easy access to business data in case of smaller disruptions like outages, lost equipment, accidental deletion, or hard drive crashes. This solution copies the existing information to a second storage environment. With this you can choose to simply back up a few important files, or your entire database.

There are, however, a few drawbacks to relying on backup solutions as your failsafe. If you write three more pages for that paper but your computer crashes before you save your work to the backup source, you’ll have to start from the last moment you backed up. It’s the same with business files—data will only be updated to the previous backup.

Since many companies use this system for smaller-scale outages, in many instances they will keep their backups on-site, or close to their primary facility. If they get hit by a natural disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake, there’s a chance those backups could go offline, and that data would be gone permanently.

As a response, cloud-based backup options are becoming more popular as data center providers can offer near real-time data replication at off-site locations. In some cases, these solutions are more cost-effective and reliable for business needs.

Disaster Recovery

For large-scale outages, disaster recovery is the best option. This solution covers more than just the major natural disasters that might immediately come to mind. In fact, a very small percentage of unplanned outages are caused by weather; with natural disasters falling in line behind system failure, cyber-attacks, and human error.

DR solutions replicate an environment. If there is a major disruption, an automatic failover transfers the management and operation of the infrastructure to a secondary machine and site, this will keep the applications and business online. The business servers will then run off the disaster recovery site until the primary facility is back online, and capable of resuming system functionality.

It’s important to note that disaster recovery options come in all shapes and sizes. Synchronous solutions replicate your data in near real-time. That makes this option one of the most comprehensive, but also generally more expensive. On the other hand, asynchronous solutions have more delayed duplication, which means some of your most recent data may not be recovered.

Which Solution is Right for Your Business?

In most cases, the best solutions involve both backups and disaster recovery. A solid backup plan that keeps data accessible is helpful for minor disruptions, but without a larger, more comprehensive strategy, it can cause all sorts of problems for your company. For instance, if your business collects, stores, or transmits information that requires strict PCI DSS, CJIS, or HIPAA compliance, you will want to make sure those files are properly backed up and accessible in the event of a disaster—which might not be possible with basic backup solutions.

Consider incorporating your basic backup under the umbrella of a larger disaster recovery strategy to ensure you’re fully protected. Third-party providers will offer cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions, that are often more cost-effective and appropriate for your business needs.

If you’re ready to learn about the solution that is best for your organization, reach out. DSM, Florida’s predictable cloud provider, has experts available to help you make the best decision for protecting your critical business data.

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