Minimize Downtime with Disaster Recovery:
A Comprehensive Guide

If you're a Managed Service Provider (MSP), you know that your clients rely on you to keep their systems up and running. If there's a crisis that causes downtime, you must quickly and efficiently minimize their downtime.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can help you do just that. This guide will explain everything you need to know about disaster recovery services.

DRaaS is part of cloud data protection services that enable MSPs to quickly and easily restore their clients' operating environments. MSPs should offer DRaaS, and it's easy for them to get started with Probax.

1) What is downtime?

Downtime is any interruption or halt in business operations, production or service.

Downtime can occur for any size of business, from small and medium- sized companies through to large businesses and even multinational enterprises. In the event of a significant event, downtime and data loss may have severe consequences, including loss of revenue, loss of customers or even more catastrophic outcomes.

2) What causes downtime?

Downtime is commonly considered the result of a natural disaster, but the reality is that there are many causes that can bring operations to a halt. Some of the more common causes of downtime are outlined below.

Accidental human error

Human errors can result in downtime. A user may accidentally delete important files or overwrite them with old data. In some instances, human error can corrupt data as well.

Ransomware or cyberattack

A cyberattack may target an MSP's clients and cause downtime for the client. Ransomware is an increasingly common type of cyberattack. Examples of these attacks can include where users receive a pop-up on their computer asking them to pay a ransom for their files, or Denial of Service (DoS) attacks where an intruder overwhelms a website or application with traffic, preventing it from accessing important data.

Cloud outage

Cloud outages may result from a range of causes, such as software issues or environmental factors. Cloud outages can be large-scale and even reach mainstream news headlines due to the widespread impact.

Software failure

Software failure is one of the most common causes of downtime. Software is complex and has many moving parts - even a small error in the code can cause system failure and which leads to downtime.

System failure

System failures can result from equipment failure, such as a failed disk drive. Another instance of system failure is when a company's server systems or databases crash and leads to operational downtime.

Natural disaster

Natural disasters are the most commonly associated cause of data loss and downtime. Examples of natural disasters are hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. These disasters cause significant damage each year. Fortunately, DRaaS is a simple way to prevent this from happening.

3) What is the cost of downtime to a business?

The average cost of downtime to a company is between $8,000 - $26,000 per hour.

Besides this cost, several other hidden costs cause businesses to lose millions of dollars each year. Downtime which causes a failure to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or major client project deadlines can ultimately result in significant financial losses.

When systems go down, costs stack up due to revenue loss, employee inefficiency, damage to the company's reputation, or brand equity. So, there are non-financial costs too. The impact can be culturally devastating as it may result in stress, anxiety, and deteriorate the morale of the organisation.

As an MSP, you can work with your clients to determine the potential cost of downtime to their business using the Probax Cost of Downtime Calculator.

4) What is disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery is the ability to restore critical systems and data promptly to continue business operations.

Whether this is done through self-recovery, backup software, or a cloud DRaaS solution, the end goal is to get a business back up and running as quickly as possible.

It's important to remember that businesses are not on their own when it comes to their disaster recovery strategy. Businesses can use DRaaS delivered by their MSP to protect themselves in the event of an attack, outage, or disaster.

5) Why is disaster recovery important?

Recovering quickly after an outage or disaster occurs is essential to minimize downtime and revenue loss.

Every organization generates large quantities of data critical to missions in every way; it is critical to the organization.

The longer the business is down, the more revenue the company will lose. Some businesses have to wait for unacceptable lengths of time before operating systems or IT infrastructure are back up and running.

Your clients might need new hardware after a disaster. If a disaster occurs and impacts a primary business site or data center, hardware replacement can take time. DRaaS will allow your clients' to operate their business while hardware is replaced.

If your clients are hit by a disaster and fail to recover in time, the chances are high that your MSP may also lose your clients to other providers. This condition leads to long-term costs of finding new business. By offering disaster recovery solutions such as DRaaS, you can keep your clients happy and reduce the need for long-term customer acquisition.

6) How to measure disaster recovery

To better understand and plan how downtime impacts any organization, you need to set critical metrics to measure effectiveness and minimize downtime.

There are two main ways to measure disaster recovery: Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

What is Recovery Point Objective (RPO)?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) describes the maximum period (in minutes and hours) between a backup and an incident that might result in data or operations loss. The RPO is a function of time because it is based on the regular intervals when you back up your data.

What is Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the duration a system is down but poses an insignificant risk of damage or data loss to normal business operations. The time extends to when you will restore the system.

Why are faster or shorter RPOs and RTOs better for disaster recovery?

The shorter a company's RTO, the less downtime the organization must endure — minimizing productivity loss and recovery costs. This also plays a role in helping to lower the chance an organization's reputation will take a hit.

The shorter your RPO, the less probability of losing your data. While these two numbers are somewhat independent, they work together to help an organization develop the physical and virtual infrastructure for data recovery.

7) What is the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity?

Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) both help you return to normal operations after an incident. They can be planned for separately or together which is commonly referred to as a Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Plan, or DR/BC Plan.

A business continuity plan focuses on the vital business processes that must continue to operate, while disaster recovery solutions focus on implementing backup and contingency plans before a disaster. Business continuity planning is comprehensive organization plans which can include:

  • Plans for resumption of businesses
  • Occupant emergency plans
  • Continuous operation plans, and
  • Emergency management plan.

Once disaster strikes, disaster recovery rejuvenates the company's operations and procedures; it is about restoring things and getting the business back to normal. Disaster recovery should be a complete recovery from an adverse situation. The business should be healthy and fully functional.

On the other hand, business continuity is concerned with mission-critical services that your business needs to run correctly. It is about data security services and putting in place plans for activating contingency support.

8) What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery plan is a schedule that outlines what to do in the event of a disaster or any other cause of downtime.

It includes plans for how your business will recover its lost data and network infrastructure, as well as what procedures the company must follow to return to normal operations.

Your MSP clients need to develop disaster recovery plans for storing data regularly and being able to access it quickly when needed. Developing a robust disaster recovery plan with a unified plan of operation for business continuity is the most effective recovery method.

9) Key components of a Disaster Recovery Plan

A good disaster recovery plan usually includes all the following elements. Generally, MSPs only get involved in components of a company's disaster recovery planning.

1. Roles and responsibilities

All stakeholders in the disaster recovery plan must be aware of the roles and responsibilities they have in carrying out the plan. They should have their contact information and everything they need to perform their respective tasks.

This absolute requirement allows the organization to reach out to the respective assignees when a disaster strikes. Besides, it helps achieve accountability and evaluation of the plan after execution. There should also be backup personnel for essential decision-making roles.

2. Storage considerations

Companies must identify the cost and storage utilization of the disaster recovery solution plan they implement. Then they can set aside the necessary resources to have the plan run as smoothly as possible. For example, snapshot-based replication incurs an average overhead of 20-30% of total storage, whereas journal-based continuous data protection only requires 7-10%.


You're supposed to set your RPO and RTO targets based on your SLAs and the total costs associated with your downtime. They must also be reasonable based on your disaster recovery needs. Is a company inadvisably running backup-based disaster recovery sites for high-availability systems? Then, they need to be aware that tighter RPOs mean significantly higher overheads.

4. Login management

Disaster recovery requires access to sensitive parts of your IT infrastructure, so having it highly secure is imperative.

However, it's equally crucial for secure login information to be accessible even if a key stakeholder is on vacation or otherwise unavailable. Ensure that several backup personnel have the necessary logins to initiate a company's IT disaster recovery plan.

5. Testing schedule

It's essential to set a regular testing schedule at least once a year to ensure that the failover and other disaster recovery capabilities are working as planned.

Perform complete training drills that test your disaster recovery team's performance and make sure they match your RPO. This procedure will also help the team practice their roles and perform their jobs better in an actual disaster.

6. Compliance documentation 

Ensure that you record and easily avail the status and location of sensitive information, essential documents, and other business data you require for compliance. You are then supposed to ensure that the disaster recovery team can easily access these documents.

This process will help you prioritize how the disaster recovery team executes the disaster recovery plan. It also helps meet compliance requirements in case of a disaster.

10) What is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DraaS)?

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a cloud-based service delivered by a third-party service provider that protects business data and applications from service disruption or disaster that may affect business continuity.

The DRaaS provider is responsible for significant aspects of disaster recovery. Apart from offering you the infrastructure, they will manage, test, upgrade the DRaaS solution. They are bound by a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which clearly defines the level of support that they guarantee to their customers.

11) What are the benefits of DraaS?

DraaS offers businesses the infrastructure, management, testing, and upgrades for their recovery solutions. Here are five major benefits of DRaaS:

1) DRaaS minimizes downtime

DRaaS is a proactive approach to disaster recovery and reduces the downtime that businesses experience.

2) DRaaS is cost-effective

Cost-effective MSP-led disaster recovery plans are more achievable, especially for SMBs that cannot afford the overhead of on-premise DR solutions.

3) DRaaS is scalable

Scalable solutions are more readily available with DRaaS due to the high degree of MSP expertise and use of cloud disaster recovery.

4) DRaaS is secure

Security is a crucial consideration for DRaaS due to the nature of the service. The goal is to meet expectations and guidelines such as ISO 27001.

5) DRaaS provides access to support

Downtime minimization is critical for both the MSP and the customer during active disaster recovery. Customer satisfaction depends on timely resolutions of any issues and the MSP's support. It's a key selling point for customers that they have an MSP DraaS provider to call upon in the event of a disaster.

12) How much does DraaS cost?

Each DRaaS provider will have unique cost structures. However, the key takeaway is that many firms believe DraaS is only accessible to large enterprises with big IT budgets.

The reality is that DRaaS is much more affordable and cost-effective than what business leaders of small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) or even mid-tier sized businesses think. When you compare it to the cost of downtime and the cost of not having DraaS, it's a viable choice.

Thinking that DraaS is cost prohibitive is a misnomer, especially when compared to the potential financial consequences of not having it in place.

13) Is data backup the same as disaster recovery?

Backup is not true disaster recovery. It's just one element of a complex disaster recovery process. Data backup serves as a copy of a company's data, and it's meant to protect you against the loss of data within your everyday systems.

In the event of a disaster, you would have to restore your backups from a backup server or media but the process can take too long. Meanwhile production data is being lost.

DRaaS is a true disaster recovery solution that minimizes downtime. A DRaaS provider's technology takes care of your data and applications by creating a complete replica solution in the cloud to ensure data availability and continuity of critical business operations.

Failing over to a cloud environment to keep operations running and failing back to primary production quickly results in minimal data loss.

14) What is the difference between BaaS and DRaaS?

Backup as a Service, or BaaS, is not true disaster recovery when utilized on its own. It's just one element of a complex disaster recovery process. Backup data serves as a copy of a company's data, and it's meant to protect you against the loss of data within your everyday systems.

In the event of a disaster, you would have to restore your backups from a backup server or media but the process can take too long. Meanwhile, production data is being lost, meaning loss of revenue.

DRaaS is a true disaster recovery solution that minimizes downtime. A DRaaS provider takes care of your data and applications by creating a complete replica solution in the cloud to ensure data availability and continuity of critical business operations.

Failing over to a cloud environment to keep operations running and failing back to primary production quickly results in minimal data loss.