Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery – What’s the Difference?

Disaster Recovery vs Business Continuity

Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery

Planning for the unexpected is essential for all businesses—roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses experiencing a disaster never reopen. When planning for these unexpected events, companies typically look to create a business continuity plan and/or a disaster recovery plan. But what is the difference between the two? 

The terms Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are not interchangeable though many seem to think otherwise. Disaster Recovery (DR) versus Business Continuity (BC) are two entirely different strategies, each of which plays a significant aspect in safeguarding business operations.

Protecting your Data

When it comes to protecting your data, it is critical to understand the differences and plan. Those differences arise from both usage and application after a catastrophe strikes.

  • Business continuity consists of a plan of action. It ensures that regular business will continue even during a disaster.
  • Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity planning.

Disaster recovery plans involve restoring vital support systems. Those systems are mostly communications, hardware, and IT assets. Disaster recovery aims to minimize business downtime and focuses on getting technical operations back to normal in the shortest time possible.

Disaster Recovery versus Business Continuity

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

Business continuity refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a significant disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood, malicious attack by cybercriminals, or even a pandemic. A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such disasters; it covers business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and more.

Many people think a disaster recovery plan is the same as a business continuity plan. Still, a DR plan focuses mainly on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It’s just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a business continuity plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization.

There are three primary aspects to a business continuity plan for critical applications and processes:

  • High availability: Provide for the capability and processes so that a business can access applications regardless of local failures. These failures might be in the business processes, physical facilities, or the IT hardware or software.
  • Continuous operations: Safeguard the ability to keep things running during disruption and planned outages such as scheduled backups or planned maintenance.
  • Disaster recovery: Establish a way to recover a data center at a different site if a disaster destroys the primary site or renders it inoperable.

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery plan can be considered a more focused, specific part of a business continuity plan.

A disaster recovery plan is a set of tools and procedures designed to allow your business to recover from an unplanned service outage and restore normal function—the specific measures used might vary from one company to the next. However, with the advent of cloud-based data storage and processing services, disaster recovery has become increasingly synonymous with remote data backup and production environment services.

Cloud Computing allows the ability to store mission-critical data in a remote server that is in a different geographic location from your primary data center. This makes it easier to ensure that you won’t lose your data to a natural disaster like a hurricane. A category five hurricane hitting Florida won’t put a scratch on a data center in upstate Washington, leaving the backed-up data intact. This backup can then be downloaded into a new data center if the old one is destroyed or otherwise rendered useless.

When remote data backup servers are combined with remote production servers in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or a disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) model, your DR plan can become a core part of your business continuity BC plan—helping to ensure minimal downtime regardless of what happens to your business’ primary data center.

What is the crucial difference between business continuity and disaster recovery?

The critical difference is when the plan takes effect. For example, business continuity requires you to keep operations functional during the event and immediately after. Disaster recovery focuses on how you respond after the event has completed and how you return to normal.

While both functionally incorporate the “after” response, disaster recovery is about getting yourself back to where you started before the event occurred. 

For example, if a hurricane destroys your office building, your business recovery solution may allow employees to work remotely. However, this solution only works as part of emergency response and is not sustainable long term. Your disaster recovery plan focuses on ways to get employees back in a single location and how to replace equipment.

Why Both are Important

Businesses face a wide variety of threats that can impede their ability to function. According to Secure-24, these could result from natural disasters like fires, floods, tornados, earthquakes, or hurricanes. There are also many human-made threats like industrial sabotage, workplace violence, or cyberattacks. Without both a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan in place, businesses face dire consequences.

Research shows that half of all businesses experiencing a major disaster “never return to the marketplace.” Of the companies involved in a significant fire, 70 percent “fail within three years.”


There’s no telling when disasters will occur, so your organization must be prepared. You can’t afford to have any lapse in your business, and a proper disaster recovery plan can help your organization succeed when disaster strikes.

The Cyber Security experts at Lazarus Alliance are completely committed to you and your business’ success. Regardless of whether you represent the private sector or the public sector, we stand ready to partner with your organizations.

Lazarus Alliance is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-7580 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help your organization adhere to cyber security regulations, maintain compliance, and secure your systems.

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