Tech FAQ: What is RTO and RPO?


In disaster recovery situations, two essential variables reign supreme: recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). Most DR solutions will address these benchmarks upfront, and if they don’t, they’re probably not a vendor you want to partner with. To understand why, let’s quickly cover what these two terms mean and how they might affect your DR plan.

RTO

The RTO is the maximum amount of time it should take to restore application functionality in the event of sudden service loss. Vendors normally measure this span in seconds, minutes, hours or days. Ideally, you want an RTO on the shorter end of the spectrum  —  15 minutes is a solid benchmark.  

RPO

The RPO is the exact age of data that vendors must recover to resume normal operations. Think of it as data loss tolerance. Your RPO will essentially dictate your backup processes, as you must configure your cloud replication solution to back up your environment and data frequently enough to meet the objective requirements.

For some businesses in financial services or e-commerce, for instance, losing even a few minutes worth of data can be incredibly costly.

There’s typically a fairly significant cost difference between solutions that offer RPOs and RTOs within minutes and those that with windows within hours. The determining factors for you should be: How soon do I need to restore my business operations and how much data can I afford to lose before it threatens the viability of my business? In a post earlier this year, I addressed this question by comparing the two Disaster Recovery as a Service solutions offered by INAP — Veeam and Zerto.

Updated: January 2019

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