Disaster Recovery Plans vs. Business Continuity Plans

Every company faces the threat of a disaster that could have potentially major negative impacts on its bottom line. The best way to respond to these types of threats is to develop a disaster recovery strategy described in a disaster recovery plan. 

But what exactly is a disaster recovery plan? How does it differ from a business continuity plan? What are the major features and benefits of a disaster recovery plan? 


Why is having a disaster recovery plan important?

A business continuity plan defines the operations you need to have in place to keep your business operations functioning smoothly. A disaster recovery plan outlines what you need to do to prepare for or respond to a disaster. They can be similar, and some organizations use the terms interchangeably. But there is a distinction.

Having a well-structured, documented disaster recovery plan helps your organization prepare for when your IT systems are impacted in such a way that hinders normal operations. Writing your plan isn't an easy process. It will require input - and more importantly, buy-in - from every department within your organization. It will require them to review the document to ensure their piece of your company's disaster recovery operations is captured correctly.

A disaster response plan should include:

  • A summary of how you manage and store data, and what will happen if that data is breached or compromised
  • Important points of contact that will assist in the management of any disasters
  • A description of potential types of disasters your company's IT systems may face and if there are any differences in the management of each specific type of disaster
business continuity plan London

Preparing for a disaster will help mitigate the risk your business faces.


Your disaster recovery plan should answer the following questions:

  • Where is the physical location of your computers and hard drives? Is it climate controlled? Is there a generator in place for backup power?
  • What makes up all the company's hardware (personal computers, laptops, desktops, wireless devices, servers, etc.)?
  • Who is your internet service provider? How are you connected to them, and what happens if there is a disruption in connectivity?
  • What are the essential software applications needed for the business to operate?
  • How do you restore your data in the event of an emergency? What backup systems do you have in place?

The reason it's important to have a disaster recovery strategy in place is that it helps give everyone in your organization a clear set of roles and responsibilities prior to a disaster occurring. It forces your entire team to ask tough questions when times aren't so tough. That prepares your company for when a disaster does strike, and you'll already have considered the worst possible outcome and how to react to it. It's a proactive approach to disaster management.


Types of disaster recovery plans

The type of disaster recovery plan will vary depending on the size, scope, and location of your company. It also depends on how much data you have. There are three primary forms of disaster recovery plans, including:

  • Offsite data centre
  • Cloud disaster recovery
  • Disaster recovery as a service

An offsite data centre is a great system for larger companies that have room at an offsite location for backup, a significant distance from your primary data centre. Cloud disaster recovery enables a company to opt for geographically distributed backup data with failover servers only used when needed. Finally, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is typically an agreement between the company and an external vendor to manage the backup. Most of the operations fall on the vendor, consulting the company as necessary.



There are numerous benefits to having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place, including:

It provides an inventory of all your IT hardware, software, and systems

IT inventory London

You'll need to take stock of your IT system to have an effective disaster recovery plan.


In order to manage a potential disaster and assess how that will affect your IT inventory, you need to be aware of what you have in place to start with. A disaster recovery plan helps you take stock of all the various IT hardware, software and systems your team uses. You can also use this to examine how you use these tools and gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of using each one.


You can hold training drills to see how prepared your enterprise is for a disaster

A critical component of any disaster recovery strategy is being able to test its effectiveness. If you hold a training drill to determine how the plan will work in the event of a real disaster, you give your team the ability to collaborate on a disaster-like scenario. They'll get to see how well they'd work together and also where the problem areas might lie in the event of a real disaster. It provides you with actionable data on how well your entire organization is set up to respond to a disaster.


It's better than the alternative

Having no disaster recovery strategy in place is a recipe for a catastrophe. Obviously, no one wants to have to respond to a disaster. It disrupts your work and can do irrevocable damage to your company if it's dangerous enough. But documenting a valid disaster response plan is good risk management. It helps you think about what type of issues could occur in the event of an emergency as well as the best way to fix them after they take place.


Which businesses should have a disaster recovery plan?

Office 365 meeting notes

Do you need to prepare your business in the event of a disaster?


Writing and implementing a disaster recovery plan can no doubt be an intimidating task for any business. But ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long can we afford to have my IT capabilities severely limited? How much downtime can we sustain?
  • If we have no plan in place, how will our team react to a long- or short-term IT systems outage?
  • What kind of IT systems do we currently rely on to make my business profitable right now?

No matter the answer to these questions, the answer to one question is clear: when it comes to which business should have a disaster recovery plan, the answer is all of them.

Every business has vulnerabilities. Every business faces the risk of a disaster that can impede their ability to complete the mission. To mitigate their risks, it's on every business to develop a holistic disaster recovery plan to ensure no event is fatal to the health of the organization.


About us

At UK IT Service, we have experienced, London based IT consultants and technicians who will assist with your risk assessment and disaster recovery planning. If you need monthly IT support or ad-hoc IT projects we have the expertise and experience to support your company. Contact us for any London IT support needs and we'll be glad to help.


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