Do You Know the Difference Between RTO & RPO? (It's Vital to Backup & Recovery)

Two terms that sound very similar but mean completely different things when it comes to backup and recovery are Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO).

Both are vital to recovering from a data loss incident because they dictate how fast you’ll get back up and running and how far back your restoration process will cover.

Too often, companies take a “start it and forget it” approach to their data backups. They plug in a disk or start a cloud backup and then don’t think about it much again. That is until they’ve suffered a data breach, crash, ransomware attack or some other incident that’s caused them to need to recover their backup files.

It’s then that they might find out that one of the following has happened while they weren’t thinking about their backup:

  • It ran out of space
  • It hit a glitch and stopped backing up some time ago
  • It wasn’t backing up the right folders
  • It didn’t have the right timeframe set for recovery
  • The backup chosen doesn’t have a fast or easy data recovery component

If you aren’t familiar with RTO and RPO, then you’ll want to read on to learn the differences between these two important backup components, so you’re not left wondering what went wrong when you need to recover your data fast.

Understanding Your Recovery Time and Recovery Point Objectives

Don’t let Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective cause your eyes to glaze over when you read the two terms. They’re actually very straight forward pieces of your total data backup and recovery plan to ensure business continuity.

Let’s discuss the difference between each one.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

RTO refers to how fast you want to get back up and running after a data breach or other disaster. Often, the RTO is the maximum amount of time your company can be down while still maintaining business continuity.

When a company is down, the costs are growing every minute and the longer your systems are down the more difficult overall financial recovery will be from the disaster.

The average cost of downtime is between $140,000 and $300,000 per hour.

Say you wanted to get back up and running within 2 hours of a system crash, data breach, or other disaster. That would mean that 2 hours is your RTO.

The circumstances can dictate how easy it will be to meet that RTO, including whether power is out, how widespread an outage is in your city, and whether the vendors you’re relying on can meet your desired recovery time.

Part of any good business continuity plan includes mapping out obstacles to meeting your RTO and ways to overcome them. For example, you might have a backup generator and wireless internet provider should your main connections go down in a natural disaster.

When working with a managed IT provider that knows your industry, some of the questions you should ask up front that impact your RTO are:

  • What hours are you available for support?
  • What is your response time (normal and in an emergency)?
  • How quickly can data backups be restored?

You can’t time when a catastrophe happens, which is why you want a provider, like Neuron Computers, that has 24/7 support.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

Your RPO refers to how much data or how far back you want your data recovery process to include. This is a balance between how much data loss is acceptable with the cost of backing up and restoring data that might be several years old.

The type of data backup you use will be important when it comes to storing and recovering your data and ensuring you’ve got minimal loss. Important aspects to securing near zero data loss are mirror copies and backups that include snapshots of your entire system (files, programs, settings.)

Where RPO and RTO intersect is in the way that you restore data and how long that process takes. For example, say you wanted an RPO of 5 years of data, but all that data took 4 hours to restore, meaning your 2-hour RTO could not be met.

So, you may decide to use a recovery point objective of just 3 years instead to make it easier to meet your recovery time objective.

Factors that go into deciding your RPO include:

  • How often your files are backed up
  • The cost of your backup and storage
  • The cost of lost data and impact on your operations
  • Timing of data recovery solutions
  • Ability to store older data in another platform that can be restored at a later time
  • How fast you need to be back up and running
  • Data privacy regulations that dictate how you manage sensitive data

Once you understand your RTO and RPO and how they both impact the other, making informed decisions about your backup and recovery systems becomes much easier and you can avoid making some of the common backup mistakes.

Call About our Managed Backup & Recovery Solutions

Neuron Computers can help you choose a backup system that is designed for quick data recovery and that will help you meet both your RTO and RPO goals.

Rest easy knowing your data is safe! Contact us at 1-833-4-NEURON or online for a data backup review today.