Backup and Recovery

Definition of Backup and Recovery

Backup and recovery refers to the process of creating copies of data (backup) and restoring them (recovery) in case of data loss or system failure. Backups protect important files and information from accidents, disasters, or technical issues by storing them in a separate location. Recovery involves retrieving the stored data and restoring it to its original or a new location, ensuring minimal disruption and loss of productivity.


The phonetics of the keyword “Backup and Recovery” are:Backup: /ˈbækʌp/Recovery: /rɪˈkʌvəri/

Key Takeaways

  1. Backup and recovery processes ensure that your vital data remains safe and accessible in the event of system failures, accidental deletions, or disasters.
  2. It’s essential to create a comprehensive backup strategy, including regular backups, offsite storage, and multiple layers of protection, to minimize downtime and data loss.
  3. Testing and updating the recovery plan should be conducted regularly to ensure a prompt and successful restoration of data when needed.

Importance of Backup and Recovery

The technology term “Backup and Recovery” is important because it is a vital element of maintaining and protecting critical data and information systems in the digital world.

It refers to the process of creating copies of data, known as backups, which can be used to restore lost or damaged data in the event of any hardware/software failure, human error, or cyber-attack.

By having a robust backup and recovery plan in place, organizations and individuals can minimize downtime, prevent substantial data loss, and maintain business continuity.

Essentially, this process safeguards valuable information assets and ensures their availability, thereby contributing to the overall integrity and reliability of information systems.


Backup and Recovery is a crucial aspect of any organization’s technology infrastructure, aimed at safeguarding valuable data and ensuring business continuity. The primary purpose of backup and recovery is to protect against data loss and system failures, as well as to maintain system integrity in the face of unforeseen events. This is achieved by creating electronically stored copies of critical data and periodically updating these backups to reflect current system state.

This practice enables organizations to restore data and applications swiftly, allowing them to resume normal operations with minimal disruption or downtime. It also aids in compliance with industry regulations regarding data protection, privacy, and disaster recovery. Backup and recovery play a pivotal role in minimizing damages from data breaches, user errors, natural disasters, and equipment failures.

In these situations, the durability and reliability of a comprehensive backup and recovery solution can be the difference between a speedy recovery and significant operational downtime. Key elements of an effective Backup and Recovery plan include identifying the scope of data to be backed up, setting up regular backup schedules, selecting the backup medium such as cloud storage or local servers, and formulating a recovery plan. By providing a safety net, Backup and Recovery ensures that organizations can resume their core functions with minimal impact and maintain stakeholder confidence in a constantly changing digital landscape.

Examples of Backup and Recovery

Disaster Recovery at a Data Center: In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused widespread damage along the US East Coast, affecting many businesses and data centers. After the disaster, many companies had to implement their backup and recovery strategies to restore essential data and continue their operations. Companies that had effective backup and recovery plans in place were able to recover their critical data and resume their normal functions much faster, minimizing downtime and financial losses.

Ransomware Attack Recovery: In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack affected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries, encrypting files and demanding ransom for their release. Organizations with proper backup and recovery systems in place were able to restore their encrypted files from backups without paying the ransom. For instance, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) was one of the most affected organizations, but they managed to restore their systems using backups, ensuring patient data and critical systems remained intact.

System Upgrade Failures: When a company decides to upgrade its technology infrastructure or deploy new software, there is always a risk of unforeseen issues or compatibility problems. A well-known example is the Australia’s 2016 Census website failure, which occurred when the Australian Bureau of Statistics encountered technical difficulties during the system upgrade. In this case, having a proper backup and recovery plan helped to restore the website and reduce the impact of the failure on the census data collection and the Australian public.

Backup and Recovery FAQ

What is backup and recovery?

Backup and recovery refers to the process of creating copies of data to protect against data loss or corruption and restoring the data in the event that the primary data is lost, damaged, or deleted. This helps ensure the continuity of business operations and minimizes data loss in case of unexpected events.

What are the types of data backup?

There are several types of data backup, including full backups, incremental backups, and differential backups. Full backups are comprehensive and involve copying all data files; incremental backups store only the changes made since the last backup, while differential backups store data changes made since the last full backup.

How often should I perform backups?

The frequency of backups depends on the importance and the rate of change of the data. For critical systems, daily or even more frequent backups may be necessary, but for less important or less frequently changed data, weekly or monthly backups may suffice. It’s essential to determine a suitable backup schedule based on the organization’s business requirements and the value of the data being backed up.

What is the difference between on-site and off-site backup?

On-site backup refers to storing backup data within the premises of the organization, usually on hard drives, tapes, or other storage media. Off-site backup refers to storing backup data in a remote location, such as at a data center, in the cloud, or other external facilities, offering enhanced security and protection against disasters that may impact the primary data location.

How can I test the effectiveness of my backup and recovery plan?

Testing the effectiveness of your backup and recovery plan can be done through regular recovery drills and simulations. These tests help ensure that backed-up data can be successfully restored, that all hardware and software components work as intended during recovery, and that any gaps in the plan, capabilities, or employee training are identified and addressed.

Related Technology Terms

  • Data Retention
  • Disaster Recovery

  • Incremental Backup
  • Offsite Storage
  • Restore Point

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents