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What’s the difference and why would you care?

Face it—downtime is depressing, difficult and downright dumb. You can’t afford to lose business, customers, and your reputation because of failed computer systems. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC).

Almost every business depends on secure, reliable computer systems. It doesn’t matter if you’re a retail establishment, an online business, or a service provider. You rely on technology to perform everyday functions. And when those everyday functions can’t be done… your business is effectively down for the count.

The costs of downtime

The cost of downtime is significant. In this Internet-connected age, most companies lose money when systems are down. Customers cannot order products, so they go elsewhere to buy. They can’t communicate with your customer service team when your phone system is down or your email system isn’t working. And if they can’t get to your website for a while, what will people think about your business?

Downtime hurts your competitiveness. Eventually your company’s reputation can be damaged. This is why business continuity is so much more important than simple disaster recovery practices. You want to prevent downtime instead of recovering from it.

So, what’s the difference?

Business continuity is the practice of keeping the business running without disruption.

Disaster recovery is recovering from a disaster and is simply one part of business continuity. The word “disaster” indicates a situation where continuity has been broken. If you are recovering from a disaster, your computer systems are down. Your business information systems have essentially failed. Typical disruptions include planned, unplanned, intentional and unintentional events. A backhoe can snap a telecom line at a nearby construction site, for example. Malware or viruses might take down your local network. Storms, power outages, fire, floods, famine, locusts… all are disasters that can disrupt your business for a period of time.

Business continuity describes the way you eliminate disruptions. That’s the big difference between DR and BC. When hard drives, servers or networks fail, BC practices ensure that duplicate systems are in place. When downtime occurs, BC systems instantly switch to copies of the same data you have been using all along. Users don’t even notice the switch.

Smart business continuity solutions

These days you have several options to help keep your systems running and your information available 24/7. Storage solutions that contain backed-up, redundant hard drives, like Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) storage devices, help you recover in failure situations. Your users never see that a drive failed. Their data and applications are always available, even if hardware breaks. Similarly, modern networking technologies protect organizations from networking failures. Both these hardware solutions help you maintain business continuity when things break.

Many companies don’t have the latest hardware and software installed, however. It’s important to upgrade your systems in order to take advantage of the new solutions. You need to have a plan for dealing with natural disasters, hackers, viruses, legal threats, and new rules governing data protection.

3 business continuity considerations

Here are some key areas to examine:

  1. Consider how important computer systems are to your bottom line. Do you rely on an internet connection for payment? If you lost your customer database, would that immediately impact your business?
  2. Pay attention to your storage habits. Make sure all critical data is backed up to a central server in your office AND in another physical location. Your best option for offsite storage usually is a “cloud” backup solution such as a Siris solution from Datto.

Ultimately, the data and applications you use to run your business need to be protected. Consider them vital organs to the health of your business.