computer recovery

Successful business owners develop lots of plans. One of the most important, right up there with a building evacuation plan, is a business recovery or business continuity plan. These are plans that detail the steps to be taken when business is temporarily interrupted by a natural disaster, fire, flood, power outage, or network failure. Because every business uses and relies on technology to function, business continuity and recovery plans should include details about your recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).

RTO and RPO: What They Mean and Why They're Important

RTO and RPO are business technology terms referring to different aspects of data recovery.

  • RTO is the point in the future when you'll be up and running once again. The term also considers the time it should take for a system or IT asset to be returned to operation after a disruption occurs.
  • RPO is the point in time in the past that you will recover to—the point in time of your last data backup before the disruption.

Keep in mind that any data created or entered into a system between the time of the most recent backup and the time of disruption is lost data. Backups need to be frequent and should be stored offsite for protection.

When planning for disaster recovery, business owners need to identify the systems and programs—or IT assets—they and their employees use every day. How harmful would it be to business operations if any of those systems were to be rendered inaccessible?

  • Could account managers still do their jobs without access to client data?
  • Could orders be completed without access to inventory data?
  • Could payroll be processed without access to timekeeping data?

These are just a few questions business owners should be contemplating when they include RPO and RTO in their business continuity plans.

Why Backup Systems Matter

When disruption occurs, and systems are down, how much data gets lost permanently depends upon how frequently the IT backup system makes copies of a business' computer files. This is where RPO comes into play.

For example, if your data backup only happens once each day at 6 p.m. and the interruption occurs at noon the following day, your business would lose half a day's worth of data. In this scenario, the RPO, or point in time to which the backup could restore your data, is 6 p.m. the previous day.

Not all data is of the same importance or commands the same urgency for recovery. For instance, sales transaction data is perhaps more important than inventory data. In other words, losing a day's worth of inventory data might not be as devastating to operations as losing a day's worth of sales transaction data.

Why Automatic Backup is Best

The frequency with which an IT backup system makes copies of data can factor into the cost—especially if you are making physical backups that you are managing yourself. Backup systems with higher frequency reduce data loss but are more expensive.

For this reason, backup systems can and should be developed to give higher frequency to the most critical, valuable, and operationally critical data. Or, you could work with an experienced managed IT services provider like Monroy ITS to handle this critical data backup work for you with automatic backups.

backup buttonWe can offer solutions for synchronous replication of data—in other words, backing up data as it is being entered. With synchronous backup systems in place, there is a near-zero loss of data when an interruption occurs.

It is worth noting that there are many different types and frequencies of backup systems, ranging from once every 24 hours, to once every few hours, to synchronous.

The least reliable tend to be those that require an employee to remember to execute the backup each day. If that employee is out sick or just forgets to run the backup and disaster strikes, your business could lose more than a day's worth of data. Backup systems that can run automatically—that don't require a human to do anything—and store data in the could are much more reliable.

Know How Long Data Recovery Will Take

When disruptions occur, every backup system will take some time to recover the lost data and for systems to be updated and restored to full operation. As we mentioned above, RTO refers to how long that data recovery process will take. Depending upon the system and amount of data, RTO could take minutes or even days. And it's essential to set realistic expectations for your RTO.

Returning to the previous scenario, assuming a business' backup happened at 6 p.m. yesterday, and the network experienced an interruption at noon today, that company would lose half a day's worth of data. Additionally, they could incur other losses while waiting for data to be recovered and systems to be restored to full operation. These losses could include the time employees are being paid but can't do their jobs without the IT systems, lost sales revenue because the system can't process transactions, and more.

Ideally, business owners want the RTO to be as brief as possible from the time of disruption so they can minimize the business impact of the data disaster. However, especially if you are doing backups yourself, disaster recovery could take a long time—long enough to potentially ruin your business. Sadly, this happens every day—the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster.

Don't Let a Data Disaster Hurt Your San Antonio Business

Every business, including small businesses, should detail RTO and RPO in their business continuity plan. And if you don't have those concepts outlined in your plan—or worse, you don't have a business continuity plan today—it's time to give us a call at Monroy IT Services. Our business continuity experts are ready to help your San Antonio or Texas Hill Country area business develop a customized plan that fits your needs.