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Five key differences between business continuity and disaster recovery

Lightning storm over a city

Threats that can cause profound disruption have proliferated as the infrastructure they threaten has become vital to survival. Fortunately, help is available.

Business continuity and disaster recovery are so closely related that they are often offered as a combined service with its own acronym: Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR). Nevertheless, you should know the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery as well as instances where they overlap, how they work together, and why you need a plan for both. Here are five key differences.

  1. Business continuity describes a set of strategies you can put in place to ensure that your enterprise can continue operating in the case of a natural disaster—such as a flood or fire—or a cybercrime such as a ransomware attack. Disaster recovery is another related set of procedures that are triggered when such an incident occurs, enabling you to bring your operation, including data and IT infrastructure, back to optimal functionality as quickly as possible.

    Business continuity planning begins with an honest risk assessment. You must identify vulnerabilities in each of your business processes, develop an emergency plan, including communications procedures, and establish structures, such as a command center. The business continuity planning process should conclude with a thorough report that is disseminated to all your employees and stakeholders.

  2. A disaster recovery plan is actually just one part of a comprehensive business continuity plan. The former focuses on the restoration of IT infrastructure and operations after a catastrophe while the latter addresses your organization’s ability to sustain operations in the face of disruption.

    Quest CTA DisasterRecoveryReview

    Studies show that both of these plans are more necessary than they have ever been. Beginning in the spring of 2020, cybercrime spiked dramatically as remote workforces made organizations more vulnerable. Meanwhile, even natural disasters seem to be increasing in number and severity. As a result, many organizations now work with technology management companies to help with their BC/DR planning.

  3. In the case of a disaster, your business continuity plan and your disaster recovery plan yield different results. With solid business continuity planning, for example, your essential data and applications can be migrated to the cloud and a “failover” switch set up to shift network operations to the cloud until your primary IT network can be restored. The disaster recovery plan ensures that the process of bringing full functionality back to your organization occurs as seamlessly as possible.
  4. Unlike your general business continuity plan, a disaster recovery plan can help you identify and prepare recovery teams, define stakeholders within and outside your organization, and create a repository of processes and functionalities that are necessary for your operation.
    The disaster-recovery element of your overall business continuity plan should also adhere to industry standards and address compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.


  5. Your disaster recovery plan will contain protocols that allow your company to respond quickly in the face of a catastrophe. What that entails will depend entirely on the nature and scope of your business and the event. That’s one reason that your business continuity and disaster recovery plans need to be customized for your situation.
Good news: Advanced technologies can help.

Disastrous business disruption has become much too common and much too expensive to ignore. As information technology infrastructure has become essential to survival, the cost of business disruption has become staggering. As a result, the prospect of confronting your organization’s vulnerabilities may seem daunting and downright petrifying.

The good news in all of this is that just as the technology necessary for a business to survive and compete has become so valuable and equally vulnerable, other technologies have evolved that make it possible for you to protect it. 

The fact is advances in cloud storage, bandwidth availability, and other wonders that mark this era of digital transformation have made business continuity an achievable goal. On the other hand, if you suspect that all of this is extraordinarily complex, you are correct.

That’s why a growing number of organizations—including businesses of all sizes, from educational institutions to hospitals and banks—are seeking help from expert providers of business continuity and disaster recovery services. When disaster strikes, you’ll want to have a trusted partner and a plan in place. Knowing you are prepared can make it much easier to stay focused on growing your business and confronting daily challenges and opportunities.

I hope you found this information helpful. As always, contact us anytime about your technology needs.

Until next time,


Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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