RTO, or recovery time objective, is the target time you set for the recovery of your IT and business activities after a disaster has struck. The goal here is to calculate how quickly you need for recovery, which can then dictate the type of preparations you need to implement and the overall budget you should assign to business continuity.
If, for example, you find that your RTO is five hours, meaning your business can survive with systems down for this amount of time, then you will need to ensure a high level of preparation and a higher budget to ensure that systems can be recovered quickly. On the other hand, if the RTO is two weeks, then you can probably budget less and invest in less advanced solutions.
RPO, or recovery point objective, is focused on data and your company’s loss tolerance in relation to your data. RPO is determined by looking at the time between data backups and the amount of data that could be lost in between backups.
As part of business continuity planning, you need to figure out how long you can afford to operate without that data before the business suffers. A good example of setting an RPO is to imagine that you are writing an important, yet lengthy, report. Think to yourself that eventually your computer will crash and any content written after your last save will be lost. How much time can you tolerate having to try to recover, or rewrite that missing content?
That time becomes your RPO, and should become the indicator of how often you back your data up, or in this case, save your work. If you find that your business can survive three to four days in between backups, then the RPO would be three days (the shortest time between backups).