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Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery: What’s the difference?

Posted by Sean Houghton | 15-Feb-2022 12:00:51

Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are often wrongfully used interchangeably. Both approaches focus on safeguarding a business if disaster was ever to occur. However, some critical differences between the two set them apart.

It is critical for businesses to completely understand both BS and DR to plan and execute both strategies effectively. Though some companies choose to focus on one or the other, we highly recommend investing in both a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery strategy to ensure maximum protection.

What is business continuity?

Business Continuity (BC) or a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) refers to a strategy or plan that encapsulates protocols that ensure that a business can maintain an operation level of business function even in a disaster.

What is disaster recovery? 

Disaster Recovery (DR) or a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a strategy that outlines the process of resolving a disruption after the event has happened. DRP’s usually focus on finding the source of the issue, blocking it, recovering any lost data, and getting the business back up and running as soon as possible.

A business may have different DRPs that cover other kinds of disasters, such as natural disasters or cyberattacks.

4 key differences between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery 

Proactive vs Reactive

BCP is more proactive as it refers to implementing processes and procedures to ensure a business remains at a healthy level of operations in case a disaster ever happens.

Whereas a DRP is a reactive plan of what actions to take once the incident has already occurred.


Another key difference is the scope each approach has. A BCP encompasses all business functions needed to keep the business operational, no matter the type of crisis or event. A DRP focuses mainly on specific systems or data that has been impacted by the event and looks at restoring those affected as quickly as possible.


Components of a BCP and a DRP vary from business to business. However, there are vital steps that each plan should include.

A business continuity plan should include:
  • Define your business continuity team
  • Perform a business impact analysis
  • Outline your crisis communication channels
  • Train and educate your employees
  • Test, monitor and maintain your strategy regularly
A disaster recovery plan should include:
  • Define your disaster recovery team
  • Identify business critical functions and potential vulnerabilities
  • Create a disaster recovery plan
  • Create backup procedures
  • Train and educate staff
  • Regularly test, analyse, and maintain the DR plan



Another key difference between business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans is when they are actioned.

A business continuity plan is set in motion as the crisis or event is happening and is sustained throughout until the crisis has been resolved.

However, a disaster recovery plan would be set in motion once the emergency is over and will continue until the business has returned to ‘normal’.

We recommend having both a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan to ensure you have a well-rounded defence against any form of disaster. Employing both will significantly decrease the impact of an event, protecting the business and the businesses stakeholders.

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Topics: cybersecurity, IT Strategy, IT Strat and Bud Camp, business continuity

Written by Sean Houghton

Commercial & Operations Director at Aztech

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