Disaster recovery systems are either physical or digital.  Somewhat older business people will be familiar with the array of tapes – one for each day of the week – that are fed into the computer each day so that a backup can be made of all the data stored on the server.  These are safely stored so that should some disaster befall the business such that the server is destroyed or the hard drive crashes, you pull out the most recent tape, feed it into a working computer and, hey presto, you have all your data back.

Backup tapes are effective in some circumstances, meaning that you can carry on the business with little or no downtime, but by no means in all.  For example, most backup systems are set to run in the early hours of the morning when the computer is not in use.  If the disaster occurs very soon after the tape is removed from the server and safely stored, but before most people have done more than turn on their work station and have their first cup of coffee, there will be little virtually no loss of data.  But if the disaster occurs at 11:30pm, any documents created or modified during that working day will be lost.

In theory, single location disaster recovery solutions require the daily tapes to be stored in a safe location, other than the place of business.  In practice, they are usually stored on site (often right next to the computer) because this is the easiest thing to do.  This is fine if the disaster is a hard drive crash or a virus that shuts down the system.  But if the disaster is a fire or a flood, both server and backup tapes will be affected.  If the tapes are stored offsite, there is the inconvenience and possible expense of getting them to this single location.  Costs incurred by single location disaster recovery solutions include the initial outlay for tapes (and quality ones can be pricey) plus – it is to be hoped – a fireproof box in which to store them.  The only ongoing expense is the cost of getting the tapes to and from the storage location.

Hosted disaster recovery services, on the other hand, charge a monthly fee, which can be seemingly trivial, just pennies per day, or some hundred pounds per year.  Just as with telephone plans, one needs to do the sums and read the fine print. 2p per day, for example, will be per gigabyte, per computer, per backup. Four computers with an average of 5 gigabytes of data each, backed up three times a day, will cost €219 per year.  By contrast, €240 per year could give you a total of 30 gigabytes of backup on unlimited computers, backed up five times a day.  In addition to the monthly backing up fees, there are also costs involved with long-term storage of archived material.  This could just as easily be on a tape in a bank vault.

While hosted disaster recovery services are more expensive, they win in terms of convenience (once set up, they just happen) and safety, with your encrypted data sitting on a secure server, presumably with a backup of its own.