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Disaster Recovery vs. Cloud Backup: What Is The Difference?

Disaster Recovery vs. Cloud Backup: What Is The Difference?

If you are new to the study of cybersecurity, you are probably hearing a lot of unfamiliar terms. In many cases, authors and bloggers throw these terms around without properly explaining their meaning. While there are far too many to cover in a single article, let’s go over one of the more common misunderstandings. The terms “disaster recovery” and “cloud backup” will often be used together. That is because they are related, but they are definitely not the same thing. Let’s go into their differences and similarities in more detail.

What Is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is a broad term that encompasses many possibilities. When you are confronted with a digital disaster of some kind, any and all response efforts will fall into this category. For instance, let’s say you suffer a catastrophic system crash that destroys some of your important data. There are numerous data recovery tools that can be applied, and this is one example of a disaster recovery tool at work.

What Is Cloud Backup?

Cloud backup is a very simple concept, unlike disaster recovery. Cloud backup is the practice of saving your crucial data in the cloud. This allows any lost data to be restored quickly from the cloud backup file. These files will normally take the form of “system image” files, but not always. Any particular type of file can be stored and backed up in the cloud.

How Are They Related?

As you might guess, cloud backup can be used as an excellent disaster recovery tool. If you are just talking about data loss resulting from a crash (as in our previous example), cloud backup can make disaster recovery much easier. However, if you are talking about a cybersecurity incident involving a malicious attacker, they might attempt to go after the cloud backup. That is where the security of the cloud network itself will prove to be the deciding factor.

Data backup is a huge part of disaster recovery, and it represents one of the best precautions that you can possibly take. There are numerous ways in which data can be turned into money, and that has caused it to become a target for criminals. Data backup can effectively defeat some of their methods, particularly ransomware attacks.

Ransomware attacks involve a hacker (or perhaps a group of them) seizing your data and holding it for ransom (hence the name). They use malware to encrypt your device remotely, and they will then demand a ransom payment in exchange for the password. However, if you have a recent backup, you can probably ignore those demands. There is still a possibility that the data might be used for malicious purposes, but data backup will at least defeat their ability to hold your data for ransom.

How Do They Differ?

Cloud backup and disaster recovery are related, but they also differ in some ways. First, disaster recovery is a broad concept while cloud backup is a specific practice. As such, disaster recovery will involve a lot more planning than a simple backup procedure. When it comes to backup procedures, your main factors will probably be the scope and frequency of those backups, as well as their secure storage. Disaster recovery, of course, will involve a lot more.

For one thing, disaster recovery should normally include forensic practices if foul play is suspected. This will potentially allow the perpetrator to be caught and held accountable. Sometimes, however, data can be damaged or destroyed by other disasters like fire, flood, power grid issues, hurricanes, or outages. Hackers and cyber-criminals are not the only danger by a long shot.

A disaster recovery plan will normally incorporate the following steps:

  1. Conducting a prioritized inventory of all IT assets
  2. Analyzing all known possibilities for disaster
  3. Determining appropriate responses to all of those scenarios
  4. Creating disaster response teams to implement those response plans

The specifics of such plans will depend on your situation, resources, and data priorities. There are no universal rules here, but there are certain universal concepts.

Other Types Of Data Backup

Cloud backup is not necessarily the only option. Some might say it is the most convenient option, but it isn’t the only one. You can also choose to back up your data in an offsite data center. This does require the maintenance of a separate facility, and it needs to be insulated from your normal network. Otherwise, an attacker could compromise the main system and the data center at the same time.

Offline backup is the most secure method, though it isn’t generally the most convenient. This method involves backing up your data on physical media (like flash drives or external hard disks) and storing it in a secured location. Since there is no way to access these backups through the internet, there is no way for an attacker to compromise them without physically gaining entry and stealing them. So, as long as your physical security is up to par, this method is pretty reliable.


So, to summarize: disaster recovery is an entire category of cybersecurity study, while cloud backup is one specific practice within that category. This means they are related but still different.

In some cases, a cloud backup might be useful even when a disaster has not occurred. Such a backup can provide reliable information with which to verify existing data. This makes it much more difficult for anyone (whether external or internal) to manipulate the data. Disaster recovery can also be done without the use of a cloud backup, although some other kind of backup will normally be used.

Whether you need to arrange for secure cloud backup services or make a complete disaster recovery plan, PCH Technologies is here to help. We offer both of these services at an affordable rate, and our reputation speaks for itself. If you would like to know more, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.