How quickly you recover from a disaster depends on how good your plan is. But before you can develop one, you need to know a few things first. That’s where RPO and RTO come in.
What is RTO?
RTO (recovery time objective) is the maximum tolerable time that your network, application or system can be down during or after a disaster. Put simply, it’s how quickly you need to restore your systems.
Your RTO functions as a recovery goal that influences your recovery efforts. It’s measured in durations of time – an hour, three days, two weeks. A shorter RTO means your systems will be up and running faster, but shorter RTOs require additional preparation and a bigger budget.
The goal with setting an RTO is to define the highest duration of downtime your organization will tolerate. For example, if you set your RTO at 12 hours, this means you’ve determined your organization can maintain operations for that amount of time with your IT infrastructure disrupted. However, if the systems are not recovered within 12 hours, the organization could suffer irreparable harm.
What is RPO?
While RTO is about planning the recovery duration of your systems, RPO is about measuring the maximum tolerable amount of data to lose.
RPO (recovery point objective) defines how much time can occur between your last data backup and a disaster without causing serious damage to your organization. In other words, how much data can you afford to lose as a result of a disaster. It’s quantified by the seconds, minutes, hours and so on from the time of the disaster to the last data backup.
RPO is important for defining key data backup recovery factors like backup frequency and backup method.
Let’s say, for example, the minimum age of files your business could tolerate losing is 6 hours. That would be your RPO, and your backup frequency would be 6 hours or less. This frequency level would necessitate a cloud-based data backup.
The Difference Between RTO and RPO
RTO involves your entire organizational infrastructure and is the primary objective guiding your disaster recovery. Once you determine how quickly your organization needs to recover (tolerance level), the rest of your recovery decisions can follow. In contrast, RPO is focused on quantifying the right intervals to perform data backups, an aspect of a larger recovery strategy.
Conclusion: Why Recovery Objectives Matter
Having an effective disaster recovery plan in place is critical to protecting your organization from disasters and cybersecurity threats. But for a plan to be effective, it needs to define the recovery objectives your organization is working towards. RTO and RPO are useful metrics for setting recovery goals that protect your business from the unexpected.