Data backup and business continuity are used interchangeably these days when referring to the storage and backing up of data. A lot of people think data backup means business continuity, but in reality, there’s a whole lot more to providing business continuity than simply backing up data. In this post, the latest in our May Myth Busting Blog Series, we’re going to tell you the difference between data backup and business continuity, and why not all backup strategies are created equal.

Business Continuity vs. Data Backup

This is one of those situations where a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. Business continuity is a form of data backup, but it goes a lot further than that. Business continuity is about ensuring that data and networks are always accessible, so that business can continue to happen even in the event of downtime, natural disaster or unforeseen outage. 

Data backup is simply storing your data in a safe place so you can access it if it goes missing. However, there are many more components needed to ensure that that data is always accessible, rather than just being stored elsewhere. 

While data backup is about keeping data safe, business continuity is about keeping business operations running 24x7 and not losing productivity due to downtime. That’s a much more valuable service to businesses these days, but it’s a much more complicated service to offer and maintain.

To offer true business continuity, you need to have a lot more tools at your disposal than just an additional server and/or cloud instance.

Components of Business Continuity

Here are some of the key components of a Business Continuity offering.

1. Data Backup

This is where our square (business continuity) is a rectangle (data backup). Business continuity is a form of data backup, but it’s a whole lot more than that too.

However, in order to provide business continuity, you need to be able to reliably and securely backup and store data somewhere. This may seem obvious, but it's worth pointing out. If there’s no way to backup data, there’s no way to restore it when disaster strikes.


2. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)

In order to maintain uptime for your clients, you need to be able to detect when issues may arise. That’s where RMM comes in. 

RMM allows you to proactively monitor your clients’ networks and troubleshoot devices to help make sure there are no issues. Your RMM system won’t prevent every issue, but it can still tell you when a failure has occurred or give you warnings that a failure is immanent so that you can start taking actions immediately. This is much more effective than having your client call you saying, “Help! My system is down!”

Combining your backup solution with remote monitoring and management capabilities is a key step in providing true business continuity.

3. Manpower

Backing up data and proactive alerting are both critical components for offering business continuity, but what happens when disaster strikes? Do you have people ready to take action?

It’s nearly impossible to predict when issues will arise, so you need people monitoring your networks 24x7 to ensure appropriate actions are taken and uptime is maintained. 

Disasters don't follow a schedule. If you want to offer business continuity, you need to have people monitoring your networks around-the-clock.


4. Virtualization/Cloud Capabilities

If disaster does strike, you need an environment to load your backed up data so that your client can continue to operate their business while you work to restore their systems. That’s why virtualization, and oftentimes cloud capabilities, are so important to business continuity. 

If a machine is corrupted, you need to be able to spin up a virtual machine, whether that be on another device or in the cloud. This allows your clients to have access to another environment while their normal network is down. 

If you don’t have virtualization and/or cloud capabilities, you can’t really offer business continuity as a service.


Business continuity and data backup may sound similar at a high-level, but data backup is really just a piece of the business continuity puzzle. While there’s a lot more strategy and requirements involved in offering business continuity, it’s a much more valuable backup solution for your clients and can differentiate you as an MSP from your competition. 

So to all those who think that business continuity and data backup are the same, you can now consider this myth: BUSTED.


See also:

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst: The Keys to Effective Backup & Disaster Recovery