I know about backup, but what’s Business Continuity?

I know about backup, but what’s Business Continuity? Everyone knows the pain of losing precious family photos or that document you’ve been working on for hours. Anyone who’s experienced data loss, has learned about the value of backup.

The cost of data loss

In business, the value of data, and the cost of losing it, goes beyond the value of the data itself. Data represents work completed and client relationships. It fuels our productivity, so we can keep on doing business. It represents opportunities to grow, to attract new customers and improve our bottom line. Without our data we can’t work, employees can’t work, we can no longer access the foundations we’ve built our business on, and we have no hope of getting new business.

What is it and where is it?

We need to backup our data. But where is it? Actually, what is it? Is it the Word documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, photographs, plans, drawings, and so on stored in our cloud? Whose cloud? Microsoft’s, Google’s, someone else’s? Is it in the personal documents folders on employees’ computers? Or maybe you’ve got a server or storage device. Is it on portable drives or home computers? Is all of it valuable or are some files more valuable than the others? To backup your business data effectively, you need to be able to answer these questions.

In information system management when we talk about backup, it doesn’t stop with the data. It includes the systems we rely on to access and manipulate the data. That might mean a server, on the premises or in the cloud, the office workstations or maybe remote users’ computers.


When talking about backup requirements we need to ask two key questions:

1. How long can you realistically tolerate your system or data being offline? We call this the recovery time objective or RTO.

2. Timewise, how much data can you afford to lose? Could you afford to lose today’s data, the files that were created and edited today. Or could you only afford to lose the last hour’s data? Maybe you couldn’t tolerate losing any data at all. This is the recovery point objective, or RPO.

Once you’ve established your RTO and RPO, and your backup strategy has taken them into account, we need to look at the recovery process. How long will that take? Who will do it? Do we have a plan? Have we tested it?

So, you need two plans: a Backup Plan and a Disaster Recovery Plan.

But wait there’s more. Yes, you need a Business Continuity Plan. But what’s Business Continuity?

Business Continuity

Business Continuity takes backup to the next level. It’s about keeping your business flowing, regardless of what happens. Let’s say for example, that you have marvellous backup and disaster recovery plans, but the Internet has gone down, and you can’t get at anything; or your IT service provider uses a proprietary backup system and no one’s available who knows how to use it, or your computers are all in the office, but the SES has cordoned it off and isn’t letting anyone in. These are all real, and painfully common scenarios. You can take Business Continuity planning to every area of your business. What happens for example if critical issues impacting your information systems occur at the same time as a natural disaster? Naturally you’d be concerned about the well-being of your family, friends, employees, but what about the business? Can you afford to lose it because the situation forces you to focus other priorities? What happens if a key worker is sick or injured? What happens if you need both partners to make a decision but one of them is unavailable? Yes, grim stuff, but vitally important when you come out the other side.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you might be thinking this sounds like Risk Management, and you’d be right. All these considerations are part of a risk-based approach to incident management, whether they relate to computer systems and data, natural disasters or workplace health and safety.

Baw Baw has many years of experience planning backup and disaster recovery strategies and assessing Business Continuity requirements. Whether you just want to confirm that your data is safe or develop a full Business Continuity Plan, give us a call. We’ll start by helping you identify what matters.

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