phone-red Call us about IT Support in London 020 7572 0000

17 words every manager needs to know about business continuity, disaster recovery and backup

Article by Simon Heath in Backup on Aug 30, 2016

turning pages in a book

Different areas of business always have their own jargon. The fields of IT management, disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity are no different.

Deciphering this lexicon and its key terms is important, especially for business owners. You need to be able to talk the talk if you want to properly understand and execute your IT strategy, create a disaster recovery plan and engage a backup or disaster recovery service provider.

So we’ve pulled together a list of seventeen backup, continuity and disaster recovery terms that every busy boss needs to know. It’s far from exhaustive, but these need-to-know terms are a good starting point.


In DR speak, an asset is any piece of property considered important or valuable to your organisation. This can include technology and equipment, your office space and intellectual property.

Critical infrastructure

This a collection of physical assets without which your business would not be able to function. It typically includes your IT equipment and other essential technology.

Cloud backup

A process in which your (electronic) data and applications get copied and sent to an off-site server via a network connection.

Data mirroring

The process of creating and maintaining copies of a file system, backup or database, often in real-time. This is done to ensure the continuous availability of data and to minimise the impact of system downtime or outage.

Gap analysis

A form of analysis that involves comparing actual disaster recovery and business continuity plans with measures, systems or processes that are already in place. You can see an example of an IT gap analysis here.


The ability of your business to absorb the impact of a disaster while continuing to work (at reduced capacity) and therefore give an acceptable level of service.

13 questions to ask yourself about IT resilience - download our free guide

Risk assessment

This is the process of identifying the risk factors, physical threats and strategic or operational risks that affect your business. Risk assessment also involves an evaluation of the impact of these risks on your ability to continue operating.

System restore

A procedure in which a system gets restored to a functioning state by using data taken from backups, mirroring or other means. You must have an alternative, accessible backup of your system to do a system restore.

Continuous availability

This term refers to systems, applications and networks that support continuous access. In other words, they’re made to be accessible even if there is system downtime or network failure.

High availability

Unlike continuous availability, high availability refers to infrastructure and systems that can tolerate a few minutes of outage or downtime without serious impact on performance.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

This is a defined period of time within which all systems and operations must be restored. An RTO typically allows time for impact assessment and recovery. Here is a useful guide to defining your RTO.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

This metric indicates how much data is at risk of loss in the event of a disaster. It’s defined as the maximum amount of time that can elapse after an incident before data is lost.


A system of protecting against data loss or total system failure that involves using multiple devices, connections and networks to backup and restore information.

Local Area Network (LAN)

A computer network that links devices within close proximity of each other. This network is connected to a server that hosts the software and applications used on each device on the LAN.

System downtime

Downtime refers to a planned interruption in system availability. This is usually scheduled outside of standard operating hours to make maintenance easier.

System outage

This is an unplanned interruption in system availability. System outage may result because of network outages, hardware failure or other disasters.

Business interruption costs

This is the cost, including revenue lost, directly associated with an IT disaster and later interruptions to operations.

Have we missed any essential disaster recovery terms? Leave a comment below and let us know of other backup, business continuity or disaster recovery terms you think are essential knowledge for business owners.

Subscribe to our Bulletins

Free Download

Is IT a bottleneck to your company’s growth?

Discover how small business IT support can be a strong ally in making you more productive and competitive.

Download Ebook