Backup vs. Disaster Recovery


by Brian Kantar | 05.09.2013
Categories: Blog

Although directly related, Backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) are two different, but necessary, IT processes. Both Backup and DR provide a platform on which a business can run in the case of data loss or corruption, hardware or network outages, or a complete disaster at the facility hosting the IT infrastructure.


Your network environment consists of a server (or servers), which houses data. This data may include files, databases, e‐mail, and unified communication content. Most of this information is accessible by multiple users and is exposed to modification and deletion. This information is typically stored in shared folders or databases that are subject to damage due to software and hardware anomalies. Any of the aforementioned conditions could lead to data loss and be detrimental to the organization. Other examples include viruses and other malicious activity, hardware malfunctions and failures, and accidental file deletion or modification. Damage to data may also be caused by user error, such as saving over an existing file or modifying an original that should have been left as a template. Performing backups of all critical data, and not necessarily other files such as application and operating system files, will allow for the restoration of files, database components, and e‐mail components in the case of any unwanted modification, deletion, or failure. Backup software such as Networker or Symantec Backup Exec provides the ability to back up any selected data to tape, disc, or a cloud‐based repository. Properly configured backup software also allows access to older versions of information and allows data to be archived indefinitely.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery (DR) solutions, unlike traditional backup solutions, duplicate one, many, or all of a company’s production and critical servers. DR software takes snapshots of the entire server(s) it is protecting and that snapshot is kept offsite. The offsite location is connected, via the Internet or a dedicated WAN connection, to the production site and the DR software replicates all of the changes of each protected server to its duplicate located at the remote site.

In the case of a disaster or outage, the duplicate servers at the remote site can be brought up and, with some additional configuration, put into production in a matter of hours, if not minutes. Although the duplicate server does contain the same files as the production server, thus acting as a “backup” server, this solution does not support file retention and therefore would not allow for restores of file, e‐mail, or database information older than the current point in time.

That said, there are a number of backup and disaster recovery solutions, and each has pros and cons to consider. Some disaster recovery solutions have features that enable them to double as a backup solution, and some backup software aids in disaster recovery, if needed. Emergent Networks is experienced in all of these solutions and would be happy to meet with you to determine what is right for your specific organization.