When unforeseen events take place and stop the organization’s operations, quick data recovery is needed to continue providing service to clients. That’s why every business should have a good disaster recovery plan that takes RTO and RPO into account.
But what do RTO and RPO stand for in disaster recovery? Recovery Time Objective (RTO) measures the time it takes for the IT team to fix the problem after the disaster hits. Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the maximum allowable amount of data that the business can afford to lose without causing serious damage.
In this article, we break down the differences between the two, and how to set good goals for your business.
Downtime and the Need for Disaster Recovery Plans
When disasters – like corruption, theft, loss, and others – strike an organization, they need to act fast so that operations can continue. Failure to do so means they can lose around $260,00 per hour. This is a steep price especially for small to medium-sized businesses, causing up to 60% of them to shut down after one major cyberattack.
To prevent the business from crumbling down after a disaster strikes, they should have a disaster recovery plan (DPR) in place. A DPR encompasses everything that the organization must do before, during, and after the disaster to protect their interests. Although not all disasters are avoidable, having a DPR can minimize the potential damage and help the company get back on its feet.
Explaining RTO and RPO
Both RTO and RPO are key metrics that help companies and IT departments develop an effective disaster recovery plan. Although they are often confused with each other, they refer to different things that are equally important in disaster management.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) calculates the time an organization needs for the IT infrastructure to recover and business operation to return to normal. If the company’s RTO is 24 hours, that means the business can survive for a day even without complete access to data and IT infrastructure.
If the organization can’t recover from a disaster in 24 hours, it could face irreparable damages and higher costs.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) measures the maximum allowable data that the organization can afford to lose. It also refers to how much time can pass between the last data backup and a disaster before it starts causing serious harm. RPO is useful when it comes to determining how often data backups should be performed.
What makes RPO an important component of DPR is that almost all disasters involve data loss. Even real-time data backup is vulnerable to data loss. That’s why most businesses back up their data at fixed intervals – every hour, every day, or every week.
Key Differences Between RPO and RTO
To understand RPO and RTO better, we’ve highlighted some of their key differences:
- Assessment Basis – RTO is a reflection of what your business needs. It measures how long the company can survive without the normal IT services and infrastructures needed. On the other hand, RPO is about data. It determines how often data backup should be performed but not other IT concerns.
- Cost Relevance – Maintaining an RTO might be more expensive than RPO because the former involves the entire organization’s IT infrastructure and while the latter is limited to data.
- Automation – RPO goals are easier to reach because it only requires data backup at the right interval. This action can be automated and easy to implement. But RTO is much more complicated because it involves the restoration of all IT operations. This is why complete automation to achieve RTO goals is nearly impossible.
- Calculation – Calculating the RPO is easier because there are fewer variables to be considered. On the other hand, RTO should be negotiated according to the IT organization’s ability to restore IT infrastructure. The client should be aware that different kinds of restoration take different times to be completed.
RTO and RPO in Practice
Here are a few real-life examples that better portray how RPO and RTO are used in certain situations:
- Application-Item Recovery – A sales rep who accidentally deletes an email that needs to be sent to a client can recover the item if the company schedules backups throughout the day. If the backup jobs are consistent, the company can achieve an RPO of 1 hour.
- Recovery of Virtualized Server from Backup – A few ATM systems that crash for a few hours can affect the bank’s transactions but not the bank’s integrity. Starting up the virtualized ATM server as soon as possible can lower the RTO.
- Full-site Failover – If the company experiences a full-site failover and loss of access due to an electrical failure, it’s possible to achieve a few minutes-long RPO as long as the important data is replicated every few minutes.
- Scheduled Downtime – If the company is planning to switch from a virtual server to a physical one, it takes a certain amount of time to complete the process. Backing up the important data and scheduling the switch so that it doesn’t affect much of the operations can help minimize both the RPO and RTO.
3 Tips that Can Help Minimize RPO and RTO
With lower RPO and RTO rates, the company will experience less downtime. This also means that there will be less productivity loss, fewer costs incurred, and reduced reputational impact. Here are a few ways to help shrink the RPOs and RTOs:
- Increase Backup Frequency – With more frequent backup schedules, the company will have lower RPO because more critical data can be recovered easily. Similarly, this also lowers the RTO because the IT team has more data that can assist them in restoring the system.
- Consider “Changed Block Recovery” Options – Instead of backing up all blocks of data at every interval, this option only backs up blocks of data that were previously changed. With this process, the total backup time is reduced.
- Replicate the Data – Having a second copy of a live data set that employees can instantly switch to will result in lower RTOs. With an off-site secondary server, the RTO will be measured by the time needed to failover from a server to another. With frequent replication, the RPO will be reduced.
Best Disaster Recovery Plans by Abacus
There’s no telling when disaster might strike a company. That’s why it’s better to be protected when it comes. By factoring in the RPO and RTO, companies can prepare better disaster recovery plans to minimize the potential damages.
At Abacus, we offer multi-layered security plans, as well as well-executed backup and disaster recovery plans to help the company before, during, and after the disaster. Contact us now to learn more about the recovery plan suited for your business.
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