RTO Meaning: Your Guide to What Is Recovery Time Objective

RTO group to assist with disaster recovery

In the event of a disaster, it is critical that your company has a robust disaster recovery process in place. This is why recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are important concepts to understand.

Recovery time objective (RTO) is the maximum tolerable length of time that an application or a service can be down after a disaster without causing any significant damage to the business.

RTO refers to the maximum allowable time you can wait after a disaster before starting operations to help your business recover. RPO refers to the maximum allowable data loss. In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between RPO and RTO, as well as how you can calculate these values for your business.

Data backup processes to limit system downtime and downtime costs

Not Having RTO and RPO Is Dangerous

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes for your business, and many simply cannot be anticipated. Things like malfunctioning technology, cyberattacks, power outages, epidemics, and natural catastrophes will wreak widespread damage to your business.

According to a study conducted by Gartner in 2014, the typical cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute. A more recent report from Ponemon Institute in 2016 raises Gartner’s average from $5,600 per minute to nearly $9,000 per minute.

The statistics couldn’t be any clearer. When a disaster occurs, the ensuing downtime is very expensive and can have a long-lasting impact on your business. This is why it’s so important to have an RTO and RPO in place. Having a disaster recovery plan in place means your business limits things like critical data loss, lost revenue, and other significant harm that result from significant interruptions to your normal business operations.

What Are the Main Purposes of RTO and RPO?

Natural disasters are inevitable, and having a solid and proactive disaster-recovery plan can help businesses enhance continuity initiatives. This will help your company avoid financial impacts due to the loss of sensitive data, revenue, and your brand’s reputation. Having a recovery time objective (RTO) as well as a recovery point objective (RPO) are essential components of any business continuity plan.

What are the factors and parameters that help limit the duration of an outage and offer data protection?

How to Measure Your Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

Estimating RTO is a critical starting point when creating your company’s continuity plan in the event of a disaster.

Four Questions to Ask While Evaluating RTO:

1. What Are the Most Important Systems in Your Company?

Any significant system failure will have a negative impact on a business. However, some applications, processes, or components are more critical than others to your company’s normal operations. If and when disaster strikes your organization, these are the resources that will require a very fast recovery time.

2. What Is the Shortest Time Systems Can Be Restored to Normal Operations?

The definition of recovery time objective includes both the length of time between a disruptive event and recovery as well as the steps needed to restore the system and its data. For example, if you’ve invested a lot in failover services for critical applications, you may expect a restore period of less than one hour. In contrast, if the restoration period is two hours, an RTO of less than one hour is impossible.

3. What Amount of Data Can You Afford to Lose?

A successful disaster recovery plan should not only address downtime, but should also minimize or eliminate the quantity of data that the organization is likely to lose in the case of a significant interruption to its ability to operate normally. Consider the implications of data loss on your business systems and how long it would take to restore such information in this scenario.

4. How Much Money Will Be Lost Due to Downtime?

Downtimes frustrate customers, contracts go unsigned, and projects remain unfinished. This is bad for the company in terms of revenue and productivity as well as recovery expenditures.

Use the following calculation to get a quick estimate of your company’s probable downtime expenses:

Downtime minutes x cost-per-minute = cost of downtime.

For a small business, an average cost-per-minute is $427. For medium and large businesses, it’s $9,000.

It’s worth noting that determining RTO isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise since each company has its own set of business continuity objectives. As a result, your organization may have a unique recovery time objective and recovery point objective from that of your nearest competitor. Some businesses that operate 24/7 may have RTOs of under an hour or aims for near-zero downtime, whereas others might afford several hours or days of outage. This difference is critical to understand.

RTO and RPO are important considerations for any business. By taking the time to calculate these values, you can ensure that your business is prepared for any eventuality.

RTO and RPO protect your organization's critical knowledge. Make sure you can backup such data and resume your normal business flow.

How to Reduce RPO and RTO

Reducing recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) can be achieved in a number of ways:

Implementing Real-time Replication

This copies data as it is created or changed, so there is less data to lose if a disaster occurs. Such granular restoration points make it possible for your business to continue to deliver normal service levels to customers quickly and easily after a disaster.

Having multiple backups

This ensures there is always a copy of the data available in case one backup is lost or damaged. Data protection solutions provide you with multiple backups, both on-site and off-site, and save you time and money.

Testing Regularly

Testing your recovery plan at regular intervals helps ensure it is operational and updated. It is important to check that your organization’s recovery plan is working as expected and that all data resources can be recovered in the event of a disaster.

Implementing a Cloud-based Solution

This can help to speed up recovery times by providing access to data from anywhere in the world. Business continuity can thus be guaranteed in the face of significant failure.

Regular testing of your backups ensures your organization can recover after a system failure and restore normal business operations

Final Thoughts on Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

A quick business impact analysis of not having robust RTO and RPO backup parameters in place shows you just how important it is to aim for a recovery plan that is cost-effective and user-friendly.

Regular backup checks, recovery plan testing, and having a solid understanding of your RTO and RPO will help to ensure that disaster recovery is alive and well within your organization.

Replicating data to a remote data center or the cloud should be among the highest priority objectives for businesses wanting shorter recovery time objectives (RTOs).

However, this option might not be feasible for some companies because of the expense involved and the level of complexity involved.

At Parsec Labs, we have a solution that can help you meet your RTO and RPOs without adding an extra layer of complexity or expense.

Parsec Data Labs helps you meet your recovery time and recovery point objectives by providing a cloud-based solution that is both cost-effective and easy to use.

We make it easy to replicate your data to one or more clouds. Restoring from the cloud is straightforward and fast, meaning critical files can be retrieved immediately, from any physical location in the world.

When thinking about your organization’s RTO and RPO, you need to ask yourself the question: “What do we have to lose?”

If the answer is quite a lot, contact Parsec Data Labs today. We would love to discuss our powerful software solution with you.

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