Online Backup Best Practices – Fifth in a Series of Five

Rob Cosgrove, CEO Remote Backup Systems

 This five part series by Rob Cosgrove helps Managed Service Providers and Online Backup consultants design correct backup protocol for their customers.

This last article discusses Recovery Objectives. Other articles in the series talk about backup schedules and shows how to estimate backup times, setting backup strategies, optimizing backup time by identifying data that needs to be backed up online, selecting backup types, and explains how to define backup sets.

Recovery Objectives

Most small businesses that buy Online Backup services don’t know the right questions to ask. However there are some things they should consider. Depending on the way you do business, you may want to use these in your Service Level Agreement or competitive marketing.

RTO – Recovery Time Objective – What is the acceptable amount of time between the loss of data and its recovery? If it is too much data (because of bandwidth) to download from a service based out of the area, and the service is too far away to deliver a USB drive to the customer, you have an advantage by being close enough to your customer to make the RTO very short.

RPO – Recovery Point Objective – The amount of data a business is willing to lose, in hours or days. If a business does not keep paper records of all transactions, it may never be able to recover data that is lost between backups. Can the staff enter a week’s worth of transactions from memory? The more often backups are done, the shorter the RPO can be.

Data Value – The monetary cost of recovering data if there is no backup. Include salaries and overhead for re-entering work from paper records; loss of business while those employees are recovering data; drops in productivity because of low morale; loss of business because customers simply clicked to another web site; cost of legal action brought by customers or vendors; loss of business because of bad PR; the cost of recovering lost business with discounts and sales calls. This is a good argument to use when marketing your service.

Downtime Cost – The cost of a business, or part of it, being unable to operate for a period of time. Likewise, this is a good argument for marketing.

Disaster Recovery Plan – A written and periodically reviewed plan that can be executed immediately and automatically in case a disaster disrupts all or part of a business. This plan also specifies the actions to be taken during the Recovery phase. The Online Backup Guide for Service Providers includes a sample template for a Disaster Recovery Plan, in case you want to offer to develop one for your clients as a part of your service.

Different types of data have their own RTOs, RPOs and Data Values. Therefore, it sometimes helps to separate the different data types into backup sets that can support the various objectives. RBackup fully supports multiple backup sets with different recovery objectives. Here’s a chart with some sample values.

Table of Sample Data Types and Recovery Objectives

Data Types                    RTO         RPO         DV     

Web Servers/Online Store      10M         10M      $350K
Accounting Systems            1H          2D       $4.5K
CRM                           4H          1D        $25K
Email                         2H          1D        $40K
Spreadsheets                  1H          1D        $500
Presentations                 15M         1D       $2.5K
Letters                       1H          2D        $10K
Images                        1H          2D        $30K
Music                         2D          4D         $5K
Video                         2D          4D        $15K
Transaction Data              10M         1D        $50K
Customer Database             30M         1D       $300K
Application Files             6H          1D         $3K
Active Directory              15M         2D        $15K
System State                  15M         2D         $5K


Being able to recommend Recovery Objectives to your customers increases the value of your service. Including guarantees in your Service Level Agreement increases the value even more.

Rob Cosgrove is the President of Remote Backup Systems, founder of the Online Backup Industry, and a vocal advocate for maintaining the highest standards in Online Backup software. His latest book, the Online Backup Guide for Service Providers: How to Start and Operate an Online Backup Service, is available online now, on, and at bookstores.

Remote Backup Systems provides brandable, scalable software and solutions to MSPs and VARs enabling them to offer Online Backup Services.


About The Author

Steve Roberts /

Steve Roberts is VP of Engineering at Remote Backup Systems (, developers of the RBackup Online Backup software platform, providing software powering more than 9,500 Service Providers in 65 countries since 1987.