Protecting data is crucial, whether you’re an individual or a business. Two key players in this game are data backup and disaster recovery. 

Data backup is like having a copy of your most important files, just in case something goes wrong. It’s your safety net for everyday mishaps. On the other hand, disaster recovery goes big – it’s a plan to bring back your entire digital world after a major disaster hits. Think of it as the ultimate bounce back strategy.

Understanding these two concepts is essential if you own a website. So, whether you’re safeguarding your website data, content or your family photos, knowing the ins and outs of data backup and disaster recovery is key.

In this guide you’ll learn everything from the different types of data backup and recovery options to creating your own strategy. You can skip to areas of interest below or dive right in!

Table of contents

Data backup vs disaster recovery

Feature Data Backup Disaster Recovery
Purpose To protect data from loss or damage. To protect the business from the impact of a disaster.
Scope Creates copies of data. Includes data backup, as well as restoring systems and applications, and getting the business back up and running.
Timeframe Can be done on a regular basis, such as daily or weekly. Typically only implemented in the event of a disaster.
Use Case Useful for recovering individual files or data in case of accidental deletion, corruption, or hardware failure. Essential for scenarios where a major disaster (natural or human-induced) could lead to extended downtime, requiring a comprehensive plan to get everything back up and running.
When it Applies Your computer crashes and you lose all of your data.
You accidentally delete an important file.
Your computer is infected with malware that corrupts your data.
Your office building is destroyed in a fire.
Your data is lost in a cyberattack.
A natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, damages your IT infrastructure.

What is data backup?

Data backup acts as a protective measure for your digital assets. Consider essential files or photos on your computer—what if it crashes, faces damage, or experiences data loss? Data backup involves duplicating critical digital content and securing it in a safe location. In case of unforeseen events, having these duplicates allows for a swift recovery..

People use different methods for backup, like throwing everything on an external hard drive or uploading it to the cloud. The idea is to have a Plan B if things go south with your original data.

Data backups are essential for businesses and individuals alike, as they can protect against a wide range of data loss scenarios, including:

  • Hardware failure
  • Software corruption
  • Human error
  • Cyberattacks
  • Natural disasters

Types of data backup

There are a few ways to backup your data. Let’s break it down:

Full backup: This one’s easy. You copy everything in your system or file. It’s like taking a snapshot of your whole digital world.

Incremental backup: Saves storage space and processing time by capturing just the modified or newly added information.

Differential backup: This one’s a mix of both. It copies all the changes since the last full backup, not just the incremental ones. It’s kind of a sweet spot between a full backup and an incremental one. You can restore things faster than a full backup, but it needs more space than incremental backups.

Comparing different types of data backup

Backup type Data included Restore process
Full All data Fastest
Incremental Data changed since last full or incremental backup Longest
Differential Data changed since last full backup Medium


Backup methods

Data backups can be stored in a variety of locations, including:

Local backup: On servers or storage devices in your own data center or office.

Cloud backup: In a cloud storage service or at a third-party data center.

Cloud backup offers a number of advantages over on-premises backup, including:

Scalability: Cloud storage services can be scaled up or down as needed, making them ideal for businesses with growing data needs.

Availability: Cloud storage services are typically highly available, meaning that your data is accessible even if there is a disaster at your primary location.

Security: Cloud storage providers offer a variety of security features to protect your data. This may include encryption, access controls, and compliance with industry standards and regulations.

Cost-efficiency: Cloud backup eliminates the need for businesses to invest in and maintain their own physical hardware. This can lead to cost savings in terms of equipment, maintenance, and energy consumption.

Automatic backups: Many cloud backup solutions offer automated backup schedules, reducing the burden on IT teams and ensuring that data is consistently and regularly backed up without manual intervention.

Best practices for data backup

Schedule regular backups

Establish a consistent backup schedule to ensure that critical data is regularly and systematically backed up. This practice helps minimise the risk of data loss and provides a recent, reliable copy of information in case of unexpected events.

Test your backups regularly

Regularly test the restoration process of your backups to confirm their integrity and effectiveness. This proactive approach helps identify any issues before they become critical, ensuring that your backup strategy is reliable when needed.

Store your backups securely

Implement robust security measures for both local and cloud-based backups. Encryption, access controls, and authentication mechanisms should be in place to safeguard sensitive data from unauthorised access or tampering.

Follow the 3-2-1 rule

Adhere to the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which recommends having three total copies of your data, stored on two different media, with one copy stored offsite. This approach enhances data redundancy and protects against various types of data loss scenarios.

What is disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is like the superhero version of data backup. It’s not just about files; it’s about your entire digital life. Picture this: a major disaster hits — it could be a flood or a cyberattack… disaster recovery is the plan for how you’re going to bounce back from that chaos.

It’s not just about getting your files back; it’s about getting your whole digital world back on its feet. This involves strategies for recovering your IT systems, networks, and critical business functions. It’s the big picture plan to make sure your business doesn’t crumble when the unexpected happens .A disaster recovery plan should include the following steps:

  1. Assessment: Assess the damage to your systems and data.
  2. Containment: Contain the damage and prevent it from spreading.
  3. Recovery: Restore your systems and data from backups.
  4. Return to service: Bring your systems and data back online and resume normal operations.

Types of data disasters

Natural disasters: Events such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires that are beyond human control and can have devastating effects on infrastructure and data centers.

Cyber attacks: Deliberate attempts to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information systems, including malware, ransomware, and denial-of-service attacks.

Other intentional, human-caused threats: Acts of terrorism, biochemical attacks, or other intentional actions by individuals or groups that can disrupt normal business operations.

Technological hazards: Events like power outages, equipment failures, or network disruptions that can impact the functionality of IT systems.

Machine and hardware failure: Failures in individual machines, servers, or hardware components that can lead to data loss and system downtime.

Types of data recovery

Granular recovery of files, folders, and objects: The ability to recover individual files, folders, or specific objects within larger datasets, providing a high level of precision in data restoration.

Instant mass restore: Rapid recovery of a large volume of data, often necessary in scenarios where entire datasets need to be quickly reinstated.

Volume recovery: Restoration of entire storage volumes, ensuring the recovery of comprehensive sets of data.

Virtual machine disk (VMDK) recovery: Recovery of virtual machine disks, a critical aspect in virtualized environments where VMs play a central role.

Bare machine recovery: Rebuilding a system from scratch, including the operating system, applications, and data, often employed when hardware failures or catastrophic events require a fresh start.

Instant volume mounts: Quickly making volumes available for use, reducing downtime and facilitating rapid resumption of business operations.

Instant restores of VMs: Swift restoration of virtual machines, vital in virtualized environments for minimizing disruptions and meeting recovery objectives.

How disaster recovery works

Disaster recovery strategies typically involve three key phases:

  1. Preventive: Implementing measures to reduce the likelihood of disasters or mitigate their potential impact. This includes security measures, redundancy in critical systems, and regular backups.
  2. Detective: Monitoring systems for signs of potential disasters, such as abnormal network activity or security breaches, to identify issues early and initiate a timely response.
  3. Corrective: Executing the recovery plan when a disaster occurs. This involves restoring data, systems, and services to their normal functionality as swiftly as possible.

Disaster recovery plan

A comprehensive disaster recovery plan outlines the processes and procedures an organization will follow to respond to and recover from disasters. It typically includes:

Disaster recovery strategy: A detailed approach outlining the methods and techniques to be employed for recovery, taking into account the types of disasters that may occur.

Recovery time objective (RTO): The maximum acceptable downtime for specific systems or processes. RTO helps organizations determine how quickly they need to recover to avoid significant business impacts.

Recovery point objective (RPO): The acceptable amount of data loss measured in time. RPO defines the point in time to which data must be recovered to resume normal operations without severe consequences.

Key elements of a disaster recovery plan

Business Impact analysis: Conduct a thorough assessment of the potential impact of disasters on various business functions. Identify critical processes, systems, and data, and evaluate the financial and operational consequences of their disruption. This analysis forms the foundation for prioritizing recovery efforts.

Risk assessment: Evaluate potential risks and vulnerabilities that could lead to a disaster. This includes natural disasters, cyber threats, equipment failures, and other potential disruptions. By understanding the risks, organizations can develop targeted strategies for prevention and recovery.

Recovery strategy: Develop a comprehensive strategy outlining the steps and actions to be taken in the event of a disaster. This includes defining recovery objectives, establishing priorities, and specifying the resources needed for effective recovery. Consider different scenarios and tailor strategies to address specific types of disasters.

Testing and maintenance: Regularly test the disaster recovery plan to ensure its effectiveness. Conduct simulations and drills to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. Additionally, update the plan as the organization evolves, technologies change, and new risks emerge.

Best practices for disaster recovery

Keep your disaster recovery plan up-to-date: Regularly review and update your disaster recovery plan to reflect changes in your organization’s structure, technology, and potential risks. An outdated plan may not be effective in addressing current challenges.

Communicate your plan to all stakeholders: Ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including employees, vendors, and key partners, are aware of the disaster recovery plan. Clear communication channels and training sessions can help everyone understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a disaster.

Test your plan regularly: Regular testing and drills are essential to validate the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan. Identify and address any shortcomings or areas of improvement that arise during testing to enhance the plan’s reliability.

How to create a disaster recovery plan for your WordPress site

Which WordPress files need to be backed up?

When creating a disaster recovery plan for your WordPress website, it’s crucial to identify and prioritize the files that need to be backed up. Key components include:

Theme files: Back up your theme files, including any customizations or modifications you’ve made to the theme.

Plugin files: Ensure that the files of your installed plugins are included in the backup. This is especially important for plugins that store critical data.

Media files: Back up your images, videos, and other media files that are part of your website content.

Database: The WordPress database contains vital information such as posts, pages, comments, and user data. Regularly back up the database to ensure comprehensive recovery.

How to enable automatic backups using UpdraftPlus Premium

UpdraftPlus Premium simplifies the backup and restoration process. Follow these steps:

Install and activate UpdraftPlus Premium

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New
  2. search for UpdraftPlus
  3. Install and activate the plugin
  4. Choose the right plan for you or your business

Configure UpdraftPlus Settings

  1. Navigate to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups to configure your backup settings. 
  2. Specify the backup schedule
  3. Choose remote storage options (such as cloud services)
  4. Add what to include in backup
  5. Set up encryption if needed
  6. Click on Save changes

Perform a Backup: Manually initiate a backup or wait for the scheduled backup to run. UpdraftPlus will create a backup of your WordPress files and database.

How to restore your website using UpdraftPlus

In case of a disaster, UpdraftPlus can help you restore your website. Navigate to the UpdraftPlus dashboard, select the backup you want to restore, and follow the prompts to restore your files and database.

Difference between UpdraftPlus free and premium

Let’s break down the distinctions between UpdraftPlus free and the premium version.

First off, the free version gets the job done—it’s fully functional. But when you hop over to UpdraftPlus Premium, it’s like giving your backup game a serious power-up.

Here’s the lowdown on just a few things that UpdraftPlus Premium brings to the table:

  1. Incremental backups: Reduce storage space by capturing only the changes made since the last backup.
  2. UpdraftVault storage: With the premium version, you get 1GB of integrated storage. .
  3. Migrate/clone websites: Clone or migrate your WordPress site in a few simple steps.
  4. Automatic back up on WP/plugins/themes updates: If you’re site has issues following an update, relax knowing that you can restore it easily.
  5. Send backups everywhere: Premium lets you save your backups to multiple remote destinations.
  6. Database encryption: Extra security for your precious data.
  7. Restore backups from other plugins: Have a backup you took with another plugin? Easily restore it with UpdraftPlus Premium.
  8. Network/multisite support: Utilise the power of UpdraftPlus Premium across your multisite network.
  9. WP-CLI: Control UpdraftPlus backups from the WordPress command-line. 


Understanding data backup and disaster recovery is important for individuals and businesses alike. Data backup creates safety nets and guards against common digital mishaps, while disaster recovery revives an entire digital ecosystem after a calamity. By implementing these best practices, embracing technologies like cloud backup, and crafting disaster recovery plans, individuals and businesses can protect their digital assets from unexpected surprises.