Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery: What’s the Difference?


disaster recovery

The risk of cyberattack is still growing globally, and no business is too small to hack or breach. It’s important to plan for business continuity and disaster recovery, and to do so in advance so you’re prepared for the worst. But first, you’ll need to understand the difference between the two.


Some use business continuity and disaster recovery interchangeably, yet there are differences between these two areas focused on safeguarding your business.


Business continuity planning ensures operations continue in the event of disruption. Whether it’s a natural or man-made disaster, national emergency, sabotage, theft, or utility failure, your business needs to prepare. Business continuity anticipates what you’ll do about physical premises, staffing, and IT.


A business continuity (BC) plan:

  • identifies business processes;

  • assesses risk;

  • weighs costs versus benefits;

  • establishes priorities;

  • earmarks resources;

  • designates responsibilities.

BC planning will outline the procedures to follow and who is in charge of which processes. Think of it like a checklist to continue operations as close to normal as possible despite a crisis.


How is BC different from Disaster Recovery?


Disaster recovery focuses on providing a backup when unforeseen interruptions hit: actions needed to restore IT assets, communications, and essential hardware systems.


Disaster recovery (DR) plans aim to reduce downtime and restore vital systems as soon as possible. After all, statistics around small businesses suffering IT disruptions are not encouraging. Depending on where you look:

  • 93% of companies suffering an IT disaster file for bankruptcy within one year.

  • 40% of businesses don’t bounce back from a disaster.

  • 60% of breached small businesses can expect to shut down within six months.

While there is no consensus, the takeaway remains the same: downtime = business disaster.


The best way to reduce risk is BC and DR planning.


Still, how is disaster recovery different from continuity efforts? Business continuity tackles all operations. Yet in many environments, disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity. That’s because disaster management hones IT infrastructure. DR gets IT back up and restores data access after a disaster.


Disaster planning establishes procedures for restoring critical applications. You establish where and how you’ll backup important data, you make decisions about what to repair and restore first, and y