As the character of your company's network changes, your backup and disaster-recovery strategies begin to merge.
Q. What's the difference between a backup plan and a disaster-recovery plan?
A. About $100 per user per month, give or take.
Consider that an hour of downtime costs a company about $300,000, according to Gartner research director Andrew Lerner in a July 16, 2014, post. Maybe $100 per user looks more reasonable when compared to the cost of your company's network being offline for hours or days. Backups have become the first step of an always-on, ever-ready disaster-recovery plan. And increasingly, disaster recovery is most reliable and efficient when done in the cloud.
Another way to look at the relationship between backups and disaster plans is that backups protect your data like an umbrella protects you from the rain, while disaster recovery protects your entire network like an ark protects you from a 40-day deluge.
Biblical analogies aside, the principal difference between backups and disaster recovery is scope: Both processes protect your company's vital data from loss, whether intentional or unintentional, and regardless of the reason. But a mere backup is poor insurance against a natural disaster that is likely to knock out your backup along with your network.
Looking at disaster recovery from a hardware-less perspective
Your data backup protects you against the many little things that go wrong with hardware, software, and humans (not necessarily in that order). Your disaster plan protects you against the type of serious outage that happens once a decade and can shut down the company for days. In the first category are your everyday hassles that can be addressed quickly and inexpensively. In the second category are events that can bring your company to the edge of bankruptcy.
Even if you lose your backup, your disaster plan protects you against a potentially catastrophic data loss. But if your disaster plan fails, you've put your company's financial health at risk. Of course, overspending on your disaster plan won't help the firm's bottom line much, either. An August 19, 2015, post on the MSPmentor blog points out that any physical storage medium entails infrastructure, and infrastructure means more equipment to purchase and maintain. By comparison, cloud backup services cost less but offer the same level of reliability. They also free up IT staff to work on revenue-generating projects.
Your top choice for your first backup is a bootable clone. You flip a switch and your clone is ready to go, very nearly where you left off. The American Society of Media Photographers' dpBestFlow.org project has created a guide to creating and using a bootable clone.
The preferred medium for your critical second backup is a cloud backup service. However, the reliability and effectiveness of these services vary widely within the category. How do you know the save-your-company's-bacon backup will be ready to go when you really, really need it?
Blurring the line between 'backup' and 'disaster recovery'
As network servers and end points extend further beyond the premises -- and the direct control of the IT department -- making a distinction between backup and disaster recovery can add costs without improving data protection. As Joseph Blass explains in an August 13, 2015, article on CloudTech, backups are now merely the first phase of your disaster-recovery program.
Backups ensure that if a data file goes bad or comes up missing, you've got an up-to-date copy to replace it. Disaster recovery ensures that if your network fails for any reason -- whether or not it takes data with it -- your organization will be back in business quickly. How quickly -- in seconds, minutes, or hours -- depends on how critical your network and data are to your company's operations.
The three most important aspects of any cloud backup service are 1) secure data storage and transmission; 2) fast, reliable, and easy access to your data; and 3) the ability to restore files and data quickly and simply. The BitCan cloud storage service meets all three of these requirements.
When you use BitCan to back up your MySQL and MongoDB databases, and Unix/Linux/Windows systems and files, you pay for only the storage you need. You set and schedule your backup in just seconds using a simple point-and-click interface. Your data is stored securely on Amazon S3 servers; it is encrypted at both the communication and storage layers.