Recovery Point Objective (RPO) vs. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for Disaster Recovery


RTO and RPO for disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is an essential aspect of any organization’s IT infrastructure, and two critical elements of disaster recovery planning are Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

Both of these metrics are important in ensuring that businesses can resume operations quickly and efficiently after a disaster.

According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2020 research, Cybersecurity in the Remote Work Era, just 45% of firms think they have the cash to fully prepare for cyberattacks caused by the shift to remote working.

In the tech world, the words RTO and RPO are sometimes used interchangeably. However, like with many acronyms, they are frequently misconstrued.

To quickly review, it’s essential to comprehend the distinctions between the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) when developing backup and disaster recovery strategies for databases.

What is Recovery Point Objective (RPO)?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) refers to the maximum amount of data loss that an organization can tolerate in the event of a disaster.

Recovery Point Objective is usually expressed in terms of time and is used to determine how frequently data backups should be taken.

For example, if an organization has a Recovery Point Objective of four hours, this means that in the event of a disaster, it cannot tolerate more than four hours of data loss.

Therefore, backups should be taken at least every four hours to ensure that the organization can recover from a disaster without losing more than four hours of data.

What is Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?

Recovery Time Objective (RTO), on the other hand, refers to the maximum amount of time an organization can tolerate for restoring its systems after a disaster.

The Recovery Time Objective is usually expressed in terms of time as well and is used to determine how quickly systems must be restored after a disaster.

For example, if an organization has a RTO of eight hours, this means that it cannot afford to have its systems down for more than eight hours after a disaster.

Therefore, the disaster recovery plan should include measures to ensure that the systems can be restored within eight hours.

What is the Distinction Between Recovery Point and Time Objective?

RTO and RPO recovery plan

Although the measuring measures for all RTO and RPO objectives are identical, their focus varies depending on application and data priority:

1# Purpose

The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) addresses the greatest amount of data loss, which may be used to guide the construction of a backup strategy.

The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) addresses recovery time and aids in the creation of a disaster recovery strategy.

2# Priority

Whereas RTOs are concerned with restoring applications and systems to allow regular operations to resume, RPOs are only concerned with the quantity of data lost following a failure event.

Recovery Point Objective, on the other hand, analyses the risk and impact on overall customer transactions rather than business operations downtime.

3# Cost

Costs differ between the two goals as well. The costs involved with maintaining a demanding Recovery Time Objective may be higher than those associated with a granular RPO since RTO specifies the time period to restore your whole company infrastructure, not just the data.

4# Automation

Data backups may be readily automated and deployed since Recovery Point Objectives need one to make scheduled backups at the appropriate intervals.

RTOs, on the other hand, make this very difficult since they engage all IT functions in the recovery process.

5# Variables for calculation

Due to the constancy of data utilization, Recovery Point Objectives can be calculated with the fewest variables.

Companies will often go through a somewhat more sophisticated method to compute recovery time objective because restoration timeframes are dependent on various elements, including analog time frames and the day the incident happens.

A lower Recovery Point Objectives results in less data loss, but it necessitates more backups, more storage space, and more CPU and network resources to conduct backups. A longer Recovery Point Objectives is less expensive, but it means losing more data.

Calculation variables may also alter depending on data categorization. Any organization would benefit from categorizing data into essential and non-critical tiers before deciding RPO and RTO in priority order.

RPO and RTO Examples

To illustrate the distinction between RTO and RPOs, consider the following situations involving a bank:

At 9 a.m., an application on the bank’s primary server was compromised, causing local and online services to be unavailable for 5 minutes.

The bank’s Recovery Point Objectives were 15 minutes for data loss and 10 minutes for recovery time to restore the systems and applications. As a result, the bank was operating within the limitations of both objectives.

The same bank had a one-hour system outage around 3 a.m. The rto and rpo only accounted for 15 minutes of data loss and 10 minutes of downtime, respectively, hence 50 minutes of the shutdown time were overlooked.

However, due to the timing of the outage, data loss was not exponential because the recovery procedure occurred during a low-traffic period for the bank.

How may RPO and RTO be reduced?

Planning the recovery objectives should be done concurrently, taking into account the company’s time, money, and reputation. All departments should work together to create a reliable business effect study.

To identify the priority order of their most significant RPO and RTOs, the information should consider how they work, the data they manage, and the impact on all users.

One may then compare downtime costs with the impact on the firm based on the variables of lost income, wages, stock prices, and recovery expenses, and anticipate the worst incident your company could face based on this information alone.


Organizations may guarantee that they are prepared to recover from any crisis swiftly and effectively by knowing the distinctions between RPO and RTO and their role in the disaster recovery strategy.

If you want to protect your business from cyberattacks, Exabytes provides eDRaaS for Enterprise organization services to ensure that it remains operational even in the event of a disaster.

To know more from our experts, contacts now.

Related articles:

Why Cloud DRaaS Solutions are Beneficial for SMEs

Data Backup vs Disaster Recovery Plan: What’s the Difference

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