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Business Continuity Vs. Disaster Recovery – A Distinctive Guide

4 Min. Read

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Many business owners run their companies assuming a smooth operation because they have established daily routines and hired good employees. However, sometimes, unplanned events happen that disrupt the workflow.

So, it would be best if you prepared yourself for interruptions. That’s where business continuity and disaster recovery plans kick in and save you time and money.

These fields handle future business interruptions and minimize a disaster’s impact on your business.

However, although they share similarities, these two fields aren’t the same, so let’s learn more about the different and similar features between business continuity and disaster recovery.

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity focuses on maintaining business operations during and after a disaster. You can achieve this by having a business continuity plan and carrying out a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).

It’s a comprehensive plan for smooth business running, even in a disaster. The plan usually focuses on the company in general but dives deep into possible events that can cause operational issues.

In short, the business continuity plan lifecycle includes analysis, solution design, implementation, testing/acceptance, and maintenance.

When used properly, these plans provide services for customers with no or minimal disruption during or right after a disaster.

A good plan also considers the needs of vendors and business partners. Lastly, you should have a written version of the plan that outlines the vital functions of your business.

Written versions of business continuity planning include vital supplies, copies of important records, business functions, and employee data.

And expectedly, the data in your business continuity planning should allow the company to be up and running immediately after a disaster.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery focuses on recovering critical business functions after a disaster. It’s a set of includes tools, policies, and processes that recover infrastructure and systems.

You can accomplish this by having a business disaster recovery plan. It’s a more specific part of the business continuity plan that takes care of your business’s important data and information systems.

Simply put, these plans offer data protection with the sole purpose of being able to recover it immediately after a disaster.

That being said, disaster recovery plans usually address the specific needs of the IT sector to get back up and running, which affects the whole business.

Disaster recovery plans could include recovering a small data collection. Or a whole data center, depending on the type of disaster.

In some situations, disaster recovery planning can also cover portions outside the IT sector. For instance, disaster recovery plans could involve steps for recovery staff to seek a backup business location so vital processes can be resumed.

This type of plan can come in handy in case of environmental disasters. It can also include detailed instructions on how to recover communication between emergency employees if the regular communication lines aren’t available.

So, if your IT sector is crafting a specialized IT plan, ensure you include the non-IT recovery steps in your broader business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Vs. Disaster Recovery: Similarities

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning usually happen in isolation, but while the two methods aren’t the same, they still share some similarities. Moreover, they provide the best results when developed together.

Business Continuity Vs. Disaster Recovery: Similarities
Business Continuity Vs. Disaster Recovery: Similarities

Now, let’s look at some similarities between business continuity and disaster recovery.

Overall Goals

Business continuity and disaster recovery plans help companies prepare for a disaster in the future or other unexpected events that can affect business operations.


Both plans have a proactive and pre-emptive method for reducing the effects of disasters before they happen, instead of reacting without preparation.

Combined Forces

You can include both plans when preparing your firm for criminal acts, natural disasters, pandemics, cyber attacks, and major technology failures.


Business continuity and disaster recovery plans require constant review and updates. That way, they can ensure they’re aligned with the company’s goals, the operational environment, and the threat landscape.

Lastly, both plans require constant resting for ensured effectiveness.

Business Continuity Vs. Disaster Recovery: What is the Difference?

If you look closely at business continuity and disaster recovery plans, you will notice differences between the two methods.

And learning about these differences can help you better understand what they offer versus your business needs so you can make the right decisions.

The Business Continuity Process
The Business Continuity Process

So, let’s review some of the differences between these two plans.

Separate Goals

Business continuity plans focus on maintaining regular business activities up and running. On the other hand, disaster recovery plans target restoring data access and IT infrastructure after a disaster.

In short, BCP ensures the continuity of critical business processes, and DR takes care of recovery.


Business continuity and disaster recovery plans have different purposes. For example, business continuity plans restrict operational downtime and maintain business continuity, whereas disaster recovery plans restrict the effect of technology failures and save business operations.


Business continuity plans ensure daily activities run smoothly in a crisis, even if that means working from different locations and using other technologies or with a reduced capacity in certain areas. In contrast, the disaster recovery process retrieves normally used technologies as soon as possible after a crisis.

Independent Operation

Some companies incorporate disaster recovery plans in their overall business continuity plans. However, remember that a disaster recovery plan can run without a business continuity plan.

So, Why Do Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Matter?

If you have a business and your operation faces some disaster, and you don’t have a proper plan, your revenue might reduce significantly.

Simply put, your business can suffer catastrophic consequences.

The longer your business doesn’t operate properly and sell products or services, the more money you will lose.

Eventually, these financial losses can force you to make difficult decisions, such as firing employees. Moreover, you can lose vital or sensitive data.

However, if you have these plans in effect, you can prevent your business operations from stalling and reduce the consequences of a crisis.

These plans can also provide peace of mind for you and your staff because you will know you’re ready for any challenges coming your way.

In most firms, the development and implementation of these plans fall into the hands of crisis management professionals and business continuity management.

They conduct a business impact analysis and train staff to execute the strategies successfully. All you have to do is find the right business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

> Learn more on how to prepare and pass the Business Continuity Management (BCM) exam based on ISO 22301.

Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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About the Author
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect, Swiss Certified ICT Security Expert, Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). He has over 20 years of broad IT experience serving on and guiding technical teams to optimize the performance of mission-critical enterprise systems with extensive practical knowledge of complex systems build, network design, business continuity, and cloud security.

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