RTO vs RPO, what's the difference?


During the design of your backup strategy, RPO and RTO are the most important parameters to define for a successful data protection plan, but RTO vs RPO what's the difference?

Although RTO and RPO are always mentioned during the design of the disaster recovery plan, not always their scope, usage and difference is so clear.

  • What do RTO and RPO mean?
  • RTO vs RPO, what is the difference?
  • Why are they so important in a backup strategy design?


Before starting any design backup strategy, it is fundamental to fully understand what RTO and RPO parameters are and the difference between the two in a backup design.



RPO stands for Recovery Point Objective and define the “age” of your data from the last backup.

To make the concept easily understood by non-IT personnel as well, in simple words the RPO can be defined in “how much data a company can tolerate losing if a failure occurs”.

The RPO is typically measured in units of time: seconds, minutes, hours, days, or weeks. If you experience a failure now and your last backup was taken two hours ago, it means your RPO is two hours and your business has lost the last two hours of data.


This article has been written for Vembu blog and can be found in this page. It explains what RTO and RPO are and the difference between the two.


RTO vs RPO, what’s the difference?

While the RTO (Recovery Time Objective) is the period of time required to restore the normal operation in the event of IT downtime, the RPO (Recovery Point Objective) defines how often you take a backup, thus how much data are lost when a failure occurs.


Better a low RPO or a low RTO?

Bear in mind that RPO and RTO work together and you must balance them carefully:

  • A low RPO with a high RTO value = bad design, the recovery from a failure requires time then a significant service downtime.
  • A high RPO with a low RTO value = bad design, although the restore can be fast the amount of lost data can be unacceptable for the business.
  • A good balance between RPO and RTO = good design, data loss and services/applications downtime are very limited with a small impact to the business.

Be aware that stringent RTO and RPO values increase the costs to achieve them because you need more resources (compute and bandwidth) and storage space. To keep costs under control, you must identify the appropriated RTO vs RPO values based on your criticality and find the best balance making your backup strategy design as cost-effectively as possible.

Read the full article RTO vs RPO, what’s the difference? on Vembu blog.


Leave a Reply