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Business Continuity Planning: What are RPO and RTO?

RPO and RTO are two of the most common abbreviations used when discussing Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning, but what exactly are these terms and what do they mean for organisations?


What does RPO stand for in Disaster Recovery?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) describes the amount of data that the organisation could afford to lose in the event of a disaster and is one of the most important aspects of Business Continuity planning.

Typical questions used to identify a required RPO level include: ‘How many transactions can you afford to lose?’ ‘Do you have a manual paper trail as a backup?’ and ‘Do you have compliance issues if you lose data?’

What does RTO stand for in Disaster Recovery?

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) also plays a strong part in Continuity planning. RTO is defined as the target amount of time that it should take for systems to be restored.  For example, how long can your business last without being able to send or receive emails, answer the phone or take a customer’s order?

When addressing the RPO and RTO of I.T. systems it is highly recommended that the business performs and evaluation on each system and their dependencies on that system in order to establish an individual RPO and RTO.

An example of the importance of RPO and RTO could be for an online retailer, where their daily tasks include taking orders electronically from customers in volume and dispatching the orders from their warehouse via a paperless system. Getting the right balance in this situation is vital, here are some scenarios:

RPO:24 HoursDaily backup via the CloudIn the worst case scenario, a failure at 6pm would result in losing all orders for that day, and the business may not know what products have been dispatched.
RPO:1 MinuteReal-time replication of data via the Cloud.This results in minimal data loss.
RPO:12 HoursPhysiacl replacement of hardware/backup is shipped to the site.The business is unable to access the data while waiting for the hardware to arrive and restore.

To ensure a successful Disaster Recovery plan is in place for your organisation it is essential to assess what level of protection is most suited for your requirements and the likelihood of any disaster occurring.

For a full recommendation on RPO and RTO for your business call virtualDCS on 03453 888 327 or email

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