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What's the difference between a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan?

What's the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity planning?

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A lot of people use the terms disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) plans interchangeably, but technically there is a difference. A disaster recovery plan is more reactive while a business continuity plan is more proactive.

With disaster recovery, your DR plan springs into action when something goes wrong, but you risk information systems being down for a while. In fact, many people don't know just how long it'll take because they've never tested their disaster recovery plans. With business continuity, you have systems in place that "fail over" and allow key systems to stay up and running and the business afloat. Some people argue that DR is dead but I don't think that's true. Until most businesses have controls in place to be able to reasonably maintain their systems in the event of a disruption (which is very unlikely) no one can reasonably claim disaster recovery is dead.


This was first published in November 2009

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