How Does Disaster Recovery Planning Differ From Business Continuity Planning?

As everyone knows, disasters are unpredictable. They can cause significant disruption to businesses, including data ...

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As everyone knows, disasters are unpredictable. They can cause significant disruption to businesses, including data loss, downtime, and even financial risk. Therefore, disaster recovery planning (DRP) and business continuity planning (BCP) are two crucial elements for any disaster management strategy. Although many people think these two terms are interchangeable, there are significant differences between disaster recovery planning and business continuity planning. So what are these critical differences, and why are both essential to your business' success?


What is Business Continuity? 

The term business continuity is used to describe a business's process to remain operational during and after a disaster. This includes contingency planning for how a company will operate, who will carry out particular roles and duties critical to maintain operations, where the business will operate from if their normal location is not an option and what effects this will have on normal business operations.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is a term that describes the plans a business puts into place that it will use to respond to a disaster or other critical event. This can include natural disasters, fire, data loss, cyber-attacks, terrorism, accidents, and other incidents that have the ability to disrupt or stop a business’ operations. Disaster recovery plans help to guide the organization in its response to the incident or event and provide guidance on getting the business to return to being fully operational.


The critical difference between disaster recovery planning and business continuity planning lies in their goals. Disaster recovery planning aims to get a business back up and running after a disaster in the shortest time possible. It focuses on restoring IT infrastructure and other necessary business operations to their pre-disaster state. Business continuity planning, on the other hand, aims to maintain business operations in the event of a disaster. It focuses on identifying potential risks and ensuring that essential business functions continue to operate as smoothly as possible even during the disaster.

Focus Areas:

Disaster recovery focuses on IT recovery and ensuring that data is backed up regularly and can be restored quickly. It includes strategies like data backup and storage and quick server recovery. Business continuity, on the other hand, covers a broader range of operations and includes planning for a variety of possible disasters, such as floods, fires, or pandemics. Business continuity planning covers areas like staffing, communications, supply chain, and logistics. It will ensure that your business can continue to run, even if one or several operations have to be moved to alternative locations temporarily.

Time Line:

Disaster recovery is a short-term solution that focuses on getting your systems up and running quickly after a disaster. It is concerned with restoring operations to the pre-disaster state, and it may take a few hours, days, or even weeks to recover depending on the scale of the disaster. Business continuity is a broader long-term solution that focuses on how a business will continue to function and operate in the event of a disaster. BCP planning considers strategic plans that will enable the business to respond to various scenarios and continue operating for the weeks or months it may take to return to the full operations.


Disaster recovery planning is typically more focused on IT infrastructure, which can be expensive to secure, back up, and restore. It can also mean downtime, which may translate to significant losses for your business. Business continuity planning, on the other hand, has broader coverage, ensuring the preparedness of other aspects, like your employees and suppliers. The cost of establishing a business continuity strategy may also vary depending on the type and size of your business. The cost may include salaries and other employee compensation, which can be a significant expense during an extended crisis.


Disaster recovery plans are mostly technology-driven, with a focus on data backup and recovery, and the use of secondary and tertiary electronic systems. The testing process is also focused on data recovery and system functionality. Business continuity plans have a more significant focus on employee competence and training, and planning for alternative work locations or supply chain disruptions. Testing of business continuity plans focuses on whether processes, systems, and employees can work together across the various operational areas, to maintain business continuity.

So, do you need both? Yes, you do.

Disaster recovery planning and business continuity planning are not mutually exclusive. Both approach risk management differently, and both provide unique benefits to a business. Although it is essential to prioritize DRP and BCP differently, they should form a holistic approach to disaster management. It is crucial to define clear objectives and implement both plans as necessary to ensure a smooth continuation of your business operations if, and when a disaster occurs. By having both DRP and BCP strategies in place, your business will be ready to respond to the worst possible scenarios.



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