The types of disasters that can strike a business are endless. Whether it’s theft, a natural disaster or something else, that fact is your data has the opportunity to be destroyed. When this happens, you will need a recovery or data protection plan in place that will leave you with close to zero loss of data. This is where RPO and RTO come in.  These objectives will be your guide to find and establish an optimal data backup plan.

Overall, RTO and RPO are important for application and data recovery.  They essentially lay out the bottom line for identifying which strategy will help you to resume business in a certain time frame. Looking at RPO and RTO, you may be thinking they are pretty similar. While they are related, they serve different purposes. Let’s break these distinctions down.

RTO (Recovery Time Objective) is how long could an application or service can be down without significant damage to your business.  The question it asks is “What is the hourly cost for that application or service if it were down?”

Example:  Let’s say your ticketing solution goes down and you get 100 tickets an hour and have 30 people working the help desk.  Then the cost per hour is 30 salaries times 1 hour.  So, if they all have a salary of $60k then it will cost that company about $900 an hour because people are sitting waiting for the system to come back up.  This doesn’t include the monetary loss from customers not getting support because of the downed system.

RPO (Recovery Point Objective) is the amount of loss your company can tolerate before significant damage is done. The question to ask is “how much data is an acceptable loss?”

Example:  Let’s say two companies backup their data once a day at 3 a.m.  They both open at 8 am and they have a system failure at 1pm.  They both just lost 5 hours’ worth of data.  Company 1 lost 500 tickets and company 2 lost 10 tickets.  So, in this case we would probably recommend backing up company 1’s data every hour instead of once a day.   Could you imagine if Facebook went down and only backed up once a day?  How much activity would they lose with thousands of posts going on every minute?

Now depending on recovery time and how often you backup determines the cost of the solutions.   A Solution that NEVER goes down and is backed up every second is going to cost a lot more than a simple backup that happens once a day.  The more you back up the more snapshots of the data you have which takes that much more room / space (data) to backup.

A quick recap:

  • RTO involves applications and systems.
  • RPO involves the amount of data lost after an event.

Both of these metrics should be considered when formulating a recovery plan. As with a lot of things, make your plan before you actually need it, and formulate it to cover the worst scenarios.

Interested in planning your RPOs/ RTOs or upgrading them? Drop us a line at