In the case of an outage, hack, or another disaster, you want to get your systems up and running as quickly as possible. You also don’t want to lose valuable data. 

Fortunately, plenty of disaster recovery options help you retrieve the information you need as soon as possible. 

In fact, there are 7 tiers of disaster recovery, each offering a different level of speed and backup ability. 

When paired with a comprehensive business continuity plan, your disaster recovery strategy can prepare you for almost any situation. 

In this article, we’re discussing each level, covering the pros and cons, and giving you some tips to help decide the level of disaster recovery that’s right for your business.

Understanding the different disaster recovery service levels

Each level of the 7 tiers of disaster recovery is an option for restoring data after an outage. 

Tier 1 represents the most basic recovery plan, while each tier gets progressively more detailed and in-depth.

Tier 7 is the most comprehensive option, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically the right choice for your business —depending on how quickly you need data restored and how much effort you’re willing to put in, you might be better suited for a Tier 2 or 3 plan.

You should always consider your unique business needs before deciding on the disaster recovery solution that works for you.

When deciding which of the 7 tiers of disaster recovery to implement, you’ll want first to identify your RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and RTO (Recovery Time Objective). 

Your RPO is the point in the past where you need to recover data. Any data between the RPO and when the disaster happens will most likely be unrecoverable. 

The ideal RPO is very low, but depending on your company, you might not gather much data, so a higher RPO could be acceptable. 

RTO, in contrast, is the time after the disaster by which recovery must happen. 

If you’re able to use a later RTO, you can safely use a lower tier of disaster recovery —these methods save data but take time to recover. If you have a very quick RTO, you’ll want to consider a higher tier for quicker data recovery.

Now that we’ve discussed the critical metrics to keep in mind let’s look at the 7 tiers of disaster recovery.

Tier 1: Physical Backup (Cold Site)

At the most basic of the disaster recovery levels are physical backups at a cold site. 

With this form of backup, you’ll send physical copies of your data (usually stored on tapes, although there are also vault storage options) to an offsite location. 

While the backup site offers a secure storage facility, usually with climate control and essential office space, it doesn’t provide any IT systems or backups onsite. 

In the case of a disaster, you can retrieve your data, but you’ll need to provide your own system. This can be challenging if systems are down.

Tier 2: Physical Backup (Hot Site)

Like Tier 1, Tier 2 provides a physical backup of all your data at a secure offsite location. 

However, unlike Tier 1, the site has a backup computer system that can process your data if needed. This shortens your downtime during an outage and improves disaster recovery.

Tier 3: Electronic Vaulting

If you’ve pinpointed a small amount of data that’s especially critical to your company’s function, you can add an electronic vaulting option to your disaster recovery support. 

With this option, an electronic channel allows you to automatically copy essential data to a remote server (the vault). 

While this allows for almost instantaneous recovery, there’s not much bandwidth available for a channel, so you’ll have to choose only the most critical data for this function.

Tier 4: Point-in-time Recovery

Tier 4 offers more technologically advanced disaster recovery. 

With point-in-time recovery, you’ll make a copy of all your data at a specific moment (often the end of the day). 

This data is stored on a hard drive or similar medium, and you’ll generally have copies stored at a secondary site and your primary site. It’s also possible to use cloud storage technology with this tier.

Tier 5: Transaction Integrity

Also known as a two-site commit, Tier 5 offers electronic backups for a large amount of data, such as transaction information. 

This type of disaster recovery constantly sends electronic data to backup sites, keeping large amounts of data safe and up-to-date. 

This tier requires a good deal of bandwidth to maintain and is easily integrated with cloud technology.

Tier 6: Almost Zero Data Loss

If your RPO is extremely low, you’ll want to use a disaster recovery solution on Tier 6 or 7. 

With Almost Zero Data Loss, you can’t afford to lose data, period. Cloud storage is usually the best way to minimize and mitigate data loss, allowing almost instantaneous data recovery.

Tier 7: Recovery Automation

Tier 7 uses advanced systems to monitor conditions by combining cloud technology with artificial intelligence. 

If the system detects an issue, it will automatically recover the relevant data without human interference. This tier allows for the fastest possible recovery time but requires very advanced technology.

Which tier of disaster recovery should you choose for your business? Ultimately, it comes down to your RPO and RTO. 

If you rely heavily on technology for your business and collect or create data frequently, you’ll probably want to choose a higher tier for maximum recovery. 

In contrast, if your business is still mainly located in the physical realm, with data as a secondary consideration, an option in the lower tiers might work just fine. 

If you can’t decide which tier is your best option, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our skilled professionals at Expedient Technology Solutions—we can walk you through your options and help you decide how to proceed with our systems.

If you’re looking to create a disaster recovery plan at any of the seven tiers, we’re here to help. 

At Expedient Technology Solutions, our systems are fully adjustable to meet your specific RPO and RTO. 

We offer file duplication for maximum data recovery, geographically diverse architecture, and encryption protection. 

Schedule an appointment today to learn more about how our services can keep your data secure!