01-28-16 | Blog Post

What is the difference between a cold, warm and hot disaster recovery site?

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We all know the importance of disaster recovery as it relates to business continuity and HIPAA compliance. However, there is a lot more to disaster recovery, and not all recovery options are created equal. Different kinds of disaster recovery are dependent on the needs of your business. In this post, we’ll talk about how the speed at which you need to recover your data and infrastructure affects your recovery site options and cost.

When it comes to the speed of recovering your data, there are three different types of disaster recovery: cold, warm, and hot sites. Each describes the people and infrastructure required to get a backup site up and running as well as the time it takes to fully recover. Let’s use the analogy of driving a car.

What is a Cold Disaster Recovery Site?

A cold disaster recovery site is as if you had a spare, bare-bones car parked in the garage at home. When your car breaks down, you have to call a friend to get your other car and bring it to you. You and the friend may have to coordinate the logistics of getting extra keys for the car. No matter what, it’s going to take a long time before your new ride arrives, so be prepared to wait a while. In IT terms, this equates to a site where there is little or no hardware set up when a disaster strikes. You’re saving a lot of money by not having equipment set up and running, but it will take a formidable amount of time to get your site back online.

What is a Warm Disaster Recovery Site?

A warm site is as if you’re driving on the road and your extra car is following behind you. However, it could have gotten stuck at a few lights and be several miles behind you; therefore, it could take a little while to catch up to you. Your extra car won’t be as fancy as your current one (no heated seats or satellite radio), but there is gas in the tank and the engine works, which is really all you need until you can get your current car fixed and running again. Similarly, a warm site recovery means you have hardware and network connections established from your site to a second site, but they are not equal. Your recovery will still be delayed while you retrieve your data from your remote backup site.

What is a Hot Disaster Recovery Site?

A hot disaster recovery site is as if it’s imperative you get to your destination on time and can’t afford any delays whatsoever. You also aren’t willing to give up your extra features, (maybe you’re driving the president) and if your current car breaks down, you need a near-exact replica. You’ve got your extra car in the lane next to you, driving the same speed. If you break down, it’s right there to get you out of a jam, but you’re essentially paying for two fancy cars, not to mention the gas (premium, most likely), you need to keep them both on the road, which will be quite expensive.

When it comes to your data, a hot site is a complete copy of your production site, including personnel, network systems, power grids and almost instant backups of your data. There is virtually no downtime when moving from the host site to the backup one. While the idea of having real time synchronization is enticing, it’s also quite expensive. You’ll need to weigh the benefits first and determine if they’re worth the cost.

Now that you’ve learned about different types of cloud disaster recovery sites for your data, what’s next? In a future post, we’ll talk about the different systems you can use to transfer data.

What’s the cost of downtime?

When your business is down, you know it costs you money. But how much, exactly? Use our downtime calculator, powered by Zerto, to determine how expensive an outage would be in minutes, hours and days, based on your employee size and revenue. The answer may help you determine what kind of cloud disaster recovery site is best for you.

Further resources

The Benefits of Disaster Recovery in Cloud Computing: Cloud Computing delivers faster recovery times and multi-site availability at a fraction of the cost of conventional disaster recovery. Cloud computing, based on virtualization, takes a very different approach to disaster recovery. With virtualization, the entire server, including the operating system, applications, patches and data is encapsulated… (Read more)

How to Plan, Design and Build a Highly Resilient DR Strategy: Join Otava and Zerto for an informative webinar as we discuss ransomware, defining RPO and RTO requirements, and how to build the disaster recovery strategy that protects your business from downtime and lost revenue. (Watch the Webinar)

Four Reasons to Keep Disaster Recovery in Your IT Security Budget: Disaster recovery used to be one of the first items cut from IT budgets, citing time and expense to implement, monitor, manage and maintain something you probably wouldn’t need. But disaster recovery has come a long way, and those reasons are antiquated. However, if you’re looking at cutting IT costs, we list five reasons to keep disaster recovery off the chopping block. (Read more)

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