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What Is a Recovery Point Objective, and Why Should You Care?

In business, people use certain terms with little thought. One such term is Recovery Point Objective or RPO. As with most business terms, it can be confusing to understand what it means and how it applies to you.

If you're running a business, it's important to ensure that your data is safe and secure. One way to do this is by implementing a Recovery Point Objective.

Simply put, an RPO is a predetermined amount of time you must restore data from an IT system during a Disaster Recovery event. It sets the maximum acceptable period of data loss.

In this article, you will learn about Recovery Point Objectives in-depth and why they are so crucial for businesses. You'll also find tips on creating an RPO that meets your company's needs.

What Is a Recovery Point Objective?

A Recovery Point Objective measures how much data in an IT system can be lost due to a disaster before it affects the business. It is usually measured in hours or days and determines the maximum time you are willing to accept between data backups.

An RPO sets the bar for how far back in time the data can be restored and is closely linked to the business's Disaster Recovery plan. It is a critical part of an organization's overall backup strategy since it defines how much data you can lose without impacting operations.

In other words, if your system were to fail and you needed to restore it from a backup, an RPO would define how much data you are willing to lose in the event of a disaster. It is essential to understand that this depends on the activity taking place in your business.

For example, if you're running a banking system where transactions are continuously taking place, 24 hours would not be suitable since changes will have occurred in that period.

On the other hand, if you're running a retail store where mostly static information is stored, then an RPO of 24 hours would be more suitable since only a small amount of data will have been changed in that period.

How Does a Recovery Point Objective Work?

RPOs help businesses determine how often they need to back up their data and how much data they are willing to lose in the event of a system failure. It is important to note that an RPO does not guarantee that you will restore the data to the exact time before the disaster.

However, by determining appropriate timelines for recovering data, businesses can ensure that they have a concrete plan to restore their data as quickly and efficiently as possible. This helps prevent unnecessary disruptions to operations due to lost or damaged data.

Factors to consider when determining how much data you can lose:

  • Adherence to relevant storage regulations and guidelines, such as in the financial and healthcare sectors
  • Your maximum tolerance to data loss and its operational impact
  • Compliance requirements like data availability and access and disaster prevention
  • Data recovery speeds and the time it takes to restore data
  • Costs associated with data backup and storage
  • The rate of change in the data you're backing up

What Does RPO Determine?

A Recovery Point Objective is a critical metric that helps companies understand their tolerance for loss. In its simplest form, it will aid you in determining how regularly you must back up your entire system to guarantee business continuity.

With this metric, one can identify the following:

  • The least frequent backup schedule
  • How much data you can acceptably lose if a catastrophe significantly damages the company
  • How far back must IT go to implement recovery methods without sacrificing its expected RTO against data loss?


When dealing with RPOs, something that must come up is Recovery Time Objective. While these two are often interchanged and confused, it’s important to note that the two have distinct purposes.

While the former sets the maximum acceptable period of data loss, RTOs defines how quickly a business needs to recover from a Disaster Recovery event.

For example, if an organization were to experience a disaster, an RPO would determine how much data the organization can accept to be lost, and an RTO would set a timeline for when the system needs to be fully functional again.

How to Calculate Recovery Point Objectives

To determine Recovery Point Objectives for your company, try utilizing the following five steps:

1. Determine How Often Files Update

The purpose of effective and efficient data recovery is to ensure that your business can swiftly access and use the most up-to-date information after an outage. This means that you need to determine how often files are updated.

For instance, if your company’s accounting system updates every hour, then you will need to back up at least once in that same period.

2. Review Your Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is essential when determining the RPO for your business. It outlines the steps needed to restore lost data, keep operations running, and return the system to its normal state.

Your business continuity plan should contain all the information necessary for data recovery. This includes both the RPO and RTO, as well as other technical information such as system components and backup schedules.

It is also essential to review this document regularly as it will help you understand what sort of data loss could occur during outages and how long it would take to restore.

3. Take Industry Standards into Account

While the two organizations may seem similar, they'll need unique RPOs addressing their specific needs. However, it does not mean you need to start from scratch. The industry standards are a good reference point for determining what’s ideal for your company.

In this regard, there are four common RPO intervals:

  • Zero to an hour- This is ideal for business systems that need to be up and running immediately after an incident, as it takes the shortest time. It's applicable in healthcare, finance, and stock market trading sectors.
  • One hour to four hours- This interval is ideal for semi-critical business systems. Organizations use it in cases where minor data loss is acceptable.
  • Four hours to 12 hours- This interval is used for business elements that, if affected, do not significantly impact the company. They include sales, marketing, advertising, and operational statistics.
  • 13 to 24 hours- This is the best option for non-critical business systems that are not used regularly and can be available up to 24 hours after an incident. These include marketing campaigns, customer feedback surveys, and others.

4. Establish and Approve

After determining the RPO for each system, it's important to have someone with authority review and approve the plan. This will help ensure they’re reasonable and pertinent to the company.

You should also document the process and monitor any changes or updates. This will help maintain the integrity and accuracy of your data recovery plan.

5. Consistently monitor your RPO settings for optimal results

Your company's needs will evolve as it grows. Therefore, you should review and adjust the objectives regularly to ensure they still reflect the organization's current needs.

By monitoring this metric regularly, you can ensure that your data recovery plan is up-to-date and all the systems are adequately protected from any potential data loss or disruption.

Benefits of Having an RPO in Place

As you may have noticed, it is challenging to determine and adhere to the appropriate RPOs. However, doing so will be very rewarding for your company. Some of the benefits you'll enjoy include:

Prevents Financial Loss

Depending on your sector and the nature of your business, critical operations may rely on data. Therefore, for every second your data is inaccessible, the business risks losing money through:

  • Productivity- While the systems are down, your personnel cannot discharge their responsibilities efficiently, thus impacting productivity and revenues.
  • Lost customers- Any downtime will lead to lost customers and negatively impact your business reputation.
  • Legal liabilities- Depending on the nature of your data, a loss may expose you to legal liabilities due to the breach of data protection regulations.

With appropriate objectives and effective data recovery procedures, you can significantly reduce or even prevent financial losses due to outages.

Protects Data Integrity

Having an RPO in place will help you protect the integrity of your data. This is especially beneficial for companies with regulatory compliance requirements, such as healthcare and financial institutions.

Additionally, it guarantees data continuity as your IT personnel can quickly and effectively recover the systems, ensuring minimal disruption or data loss.

Ensures Business Continuity

Data loss comes with significant ramifications for organizations. For some, severe data loss can mean the end of their operations, while for others, it can mean a significant reduction in efficiency and productivity.

Having an RPO in place will help ensure that your data is adequately protected and quickly recovered should any incidents arise. This way, you can continue operating smoothly with minimal downtime or disruptions.

Failover and Recovery Point Objectives

Failover allows for quick and seamless transitioning between your primary and backup systems when a primary system is unavailable due to an unforeseen event or scheduled maintenance.

Your settings should align with your systems' failover capabilities. This will ensure that you don't experience any data loss or disruption during the transition.

When choosing a failover solution, consider your RPOs to avoid losing excessive data when transitioning to the backup server. For example, if you have set a ten-minute timeframe, your system must respond within this time frame to avoid losing more than 10 minutes worth of information.

Some of the failover solutions available include:

  • Hardware solutions- Involve keeping physical appliances on-site to ensure that traffic is rerouted swiftly to a backup server in the event of failure. With this solution, latency issues are avoided, yet hosting your backup site in close proximity exposes it significantly to risks such as power grid blackouts or natural disasters, making it an impractical practice for many companies.
  • DNS services- Involve configuring your Domain Name System (DNS) to direct traffic away from a primary server to an active backup site when the need arises.
  • Cloud replication- Involves replicating data offsite in cloud storage and provides safety against physical issues such as fire or theft.
  • On-edge services- These involve configuring the application to be able to detect system outages and switch over to a backup server automatically.

Top Recovery Point Objective Trends

One of the most effective ways of ensuring your business is secure and remains competitive is by keeping up with the latest technologies.

Some of the notable trends include:

Stringent Timelines

Speed of recovery has always been a top priority, leading organizations to prioritize RTO over the lesser-known metric, RPO. However, with increased awareness and understanding of Recovery Point Objectives, companies are now shifting their focus onto this component, demanding much tighter and quicker restoration times.

More Regular Backups

Organizations are now opting for more regular backups to protect their data. This helps reduce the number of data loss incidents and increases the chances of a successful recovery.


Cloud-based virtualized solutions are becoming increasingly popular as they allow businesses to replicate their data in multiple locations, providing an added layer of security and reliability. With this approach, companies have more control over their data, ensuring that no matter what happens, you can recover the data quickly and cost-effectively.

Increased Focus on Data Protection and Recovery

While it may seem like backups insulate your business from data loss, that's not necessarily true. Furthermore, when issues occur, you want to resume operations swiftly. For this reason, there has been a focus on data protection and recovery solutions to help ensure that businesses are protected from potential threats.

Hybrid Services

Organizations are now taking a hybrid approach to their RPOs, combining the benefits of both on-premise and cloud-based services. This approach can reduce the recovery cost while still providing the same security and reliability.

Multi-Site RPOs

Businesses are now taking advantage of multi-site RPOs, which enable them to replicate their data in multiple geographically dispersed locations. This means that businesses can quickly switch over to the nearest backup site when an outage occurs and resume operations without any service disruption.

Tips for Implementing and Managing Recovery Point Objectives

Implementing an effective RPO requires careful planning and consideration to ensure that data is backed up as frequently as necessary without disrupting business operations. Here are some tips to help you set up and manage them:

  • Ensure that you have the right tools to monitor your system and detect any potential issues. With the right monitoring and management system, you can ensure that your RPOs function as intended and keep your data safe.
  • Take the time to assess your current environment and determine your specific recovery needs. Ensure you are familiar with the types of RPOs available to select the most appropriate solution for your organization.
  • Analyze the risks associated with various types of data loss and consider implementing multiple layers of protection. This will ensure that your system is safeguarded against any potential threats.
  • Regularly review and test your RPOs to ensure they are up to date and functioning as expected. This will give you confidence that your data is safe and secure.
  • Ensure that everyone in your organization knows the proper procedures for backing up and restoring data. Doing so ensures that your staff knows the importance of maintaining an effective RPO.
  • Establish consistent backup schedules, ensuring that all new data is backed up regularly. Backing up consistently ensures that your data is always protected and can be recovered quickly in an emergency.
  • Set realistic Recovery Point Objectives and design a plan that meets your business's specific requirements. This way, you can rest assured that your data is safe and secure.
  • Monitor your RPOs to ensure they are meeting the necessary performance criteria. This will help you identify any potential problems before they become critical and lead to data loss.
  • Utilize automated testing systems to validate the integrity of data backups, as this will help to identify potential errors and prevent disaster.

Meeting Your Recovery Point Objective Goals with Veritas

RPOs are an essential component of any data backup and recovery strategy. And while you can set and manage them internally, there may be better options. Instead, you'll be better off with a partner with the experience and expertise to help you set, manage, and achieve your goals.

Veritas provides a comprehensive range of services to help organizations meet their goals. From hybrid cloud solutions to multi-site disaster recovery, Veritas can provide the tools necessary to implement an effective RPO that meets all your organization’s needs. With our experienced team and state-of-the-art solutions, you can rest assured that your data is safe and secure.

Here's what Veritas offers:

  • Critical data availability regardless of what happens- Veritas ensures that your data is available and accessible, no matter what.
  • Data protection solutions tailored to meet your specific needs- Our experts can help you design an effective Recovery Point Objective strategy that meets all your business’s requirements.
  • Advanced technologies such as cloud replication and automated backup solutions- Veritas provides the latest technological solutions to help you meet your RPOs.
  • Reliable service and support- Our team is available 24/7 to assist with any issues that may arise.


A solid Recovery Point Objective is essential for any organization's data backup and recovery plan. It should include multiple layers of protection, regular testing, and up-to-date implementation. Utilizing a partner such as Veritas is optimal for setting and managing your RPOs to ensure that all your data is safe and secure.

At Veritas, we understand the importance of having a secure and effective RPO for data backup and recovery. With our experienced team, advanced technologies, and reliable support, we can help you create and manage an effective RPO that meets all your business's needs.

Contact us today to learn more about how Veritas can help you meet your Recovery Point Objectives.


Veritas customers include 95% of the Fortune 100, and NetBackup™ is the #1 choice for enterprises looking to protect large amounts of data.

Learn how Veritas keeps your data fully protected across virtual, physical, cloud and legacy workloads with Data Protection Services for Enterprise Businesses.


Frequently Asked Questions

A recovery point objective is the amount of time that can pass before data loss occurs in an emergency. An effective RPO should include multiple layers of protection, regular testing, and up-to-date implementation.

Creating an effective RPO requires setting realistic recovery point objectives and designing a plan that meets your business's specific requirements. Additionally, you should establish consistent backup schedules, monitor your RPOs, and utilize automated testing systems to validate the integrity of data backups.

Veritas provides comprehensive services to help organizations meet their RPO goals. With our experienced team, advanced technologies, and reliable support, we can help you create and manage an effective RPO that meets all your business’s needs. Contact us today to learn more about how Veritas can help.