Explained: The Connection Between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

By February 11, 2022 No Comments

Sometimes, it can feel like threats to your small business lurk around every corner. From rising cybercrime to the issues caused by a greater reliance on remote technologies, SMBs often find themselves in a fragile position. Not to mention the extra pressures created by the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, which has aggravated both those issues.

However, your small or medium-sized business doesn’t have to face these types of threats blindly. A Business Continuity (BCP) and Disaster Recovery plan (DRP) can help prepare you for most, if not all, unfortunate events. In fact, Disaster Recovery solutions for your small business might even be the difference between having a business that goes under or survives a disaster scenario – for example, a significant cyberattack – in one piece.

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. So, let’s get straight into what a BCP and DRP is and why it’s essential for your business.

What’s the difference between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans?

Business Continuity refers to the ability to maintain business operations in the face of – or recovering from – significant disruptions as soon as possible. Business Continuity is vital because each moment your business is offline translates to lost sales, opportunities and ultimately revenue – and that’s leaving aside the damage to your reputation. Which is why it’s essential to avoid it.

At Managed IT Experts we know from our work with customers that downtime can also impact your customers in a whole host of unexpected ways as they are unable to contact you or access your services. A Business Continuity plan focuses on establishing the underlying procedures and instructions you are going to need to get through the disruption as smoothly as possible. And defining all of this BEFORE it happens.

It’s easy to confuse a Disaster Recovery plan with a Business Continuity plan. However, a Disaster Recovery plan focuses primarily on incidents involving IT infrastructure – which increasingly means recovery from Cyber Attacks. Typically, it takes the form of step-by-step actions to take before, during, and after such an event. Disasters can take various forms, from physical damage from floods or fires to cyberattacks to power outages. The key to Disaster Recovery is detecting, responding, and recovering from incidents as quickly as possible.

A Business Continuity plan, on the other hand, is generally more comprehensive than a Disaster Recovery one. In fact, Disaster Recovery is typically an essential element of Business Continuity.

That’s because a Business Continuity plan isn’t only concerned with your IT infrastructure but also with your people and functions. For example, if a call-centre is taken out, a Business Continuity plan would ensure that you have the infrastructure, procedures and human resources in place to reroute calls while you restore the systems that are down.

Do you need both?

The short answer is yes.

Disaster Recovery is also tied to Business Continuity in a more dramatic sense that has implications for overall survival of your business. According to research 40-60% of businesses never reopen after a disaster that range from everything from fire to flooding and serious IT incidents.

And looking more specifically at IT itself, as many as 93% of companies without a Disaster Recovery plan shut down within one year of a major data disaster. In contrast, 96% of businesses with a Disaster Recovery plan in place can survive a ransomware attack. That means doing everything you can to mitigate the harm of an attack might just save your business. The reason for this is pretty simple: the longer an attack goes on, the more damage it does. So, what you do to mitigate it in the short term really matters.

At the same time, you also know as an SMB owner that time is money. And, in what is an increasingly fast-paced world, seconds and minutes really matter and customer expectations are higher than ever before. A lack of systems availability or a frustrating customer experience is potentially going to drive business away from you and towards your competitors.

So, while you need to do your utmost to harden your business against attacks, you also need to make sure you don’t miss out on any business as a result of them. In this way, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans complement each other nicely.

How to create a Business Continuity plan

Once complete, a Business Continuity plan will be a comprehensive, living document. And there are 5 critical building blocks to it as follows:

  1. Establish the scope of the BCP
  2. Identify and prioritize key business areas and critical functions
  3. Map out how these areas and functions are linked and depend on each other
  4. Determine acceptable downtime criteria for each critical area/function
  5. Draft a plan with measures and procedures to ensure you maintain operations

While number 5 is the most important, it will be unique for each business.

No business has the same resources, assets, IT infrastructure or business functions. So, maintaining continuity during any eventualities will require a unique approach based on your situation.

You can find more information in our blog 5 steps for creating a business continuity plan.

Disaster Recovery best practices

So, we have covered the outline on Business Continuity but how do you go about creating an effective Disaster Recovery plan for your business?

Well, there are a couple of things to keep in mind as you create it:

  • The purpose of a Disaster Recovery plan (DRP)
  • The key elements of a DRP

The primary purpose of all DRPs is the same. However, they might have a slightly different focus depending on your type of business, risk profile and priorities.

When creating your DRP, always keep the following three purposes in mind:

  1. Prevention: A DRP is not just reactive but proactive. Implement redundant network, storage, and communication systems with dedicated recovery personnel.
  2. Continuity: Identify and establish ways to maintain your core operations during a disaster. And make sure you refer to your Business Continuity plan.
  3. Recovery: Establish exactly how can you restore systems as quickly as possible. And, what procedures need to be in place to ensure you do this safely and efficiently.

And make sure you take account of the following:

  • Identify and prioritize assets, business processes, etc.
  • Ensure the safety of the premises and your staff during the disaster
  • Maintain core business operations
  • Minimize the duration of the disruption caused by a variety of incidents
  • Mitigate immediate damage and losses (data, money, leads, etc.)
  • Establish a chain of command with emergency roles and powers
  • Create procedures for coordinating to execute recovery tasks
  • Document and distribute the recovery plan, including updates

Lastly, test, test, and then test some more. Remember, you want to be sure your DRP works before an incident occurs. The best way to do that is to try it in various ways.

Five methods are typically used to test DRP readiness at different levels:

  • Walkthrough Testing
  • Simulation Testing
  • Checklist Testing
  • Full Interruption Testing and
  • Parallel Testing

Some companies even do life-like tabletop and red team exercises to ensure everyone is on their heels and prepared.

What’s more, the threat landscape changes all the time. Especially when it comes to planning effective CyberSecurity. Your training, procedures, countermeasures and DRP need to adjust accordingly. And each time significant updates happen, it needs to be tested again to verify the effectiveness of the plan.


Considering how much is riding on it, it’s easy to understand why SMBs are intimidated by Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. Drafting and implementing a Disaster Recovery plan for a small business is no joke.

That’s why it’s often more feasible and cost-effective to get help from an experienced professional. A security-minded managed IT Support expert can deliver Disaster Recovery services for a small business, such as risk analysis, planning, and testing. Not to mention stepping in to help when an actual incident occurs.

If we can help you with this process. Please get in touch and one of our IT experts would be pleased to have a discussion around your specific needs.