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recovery point objective (RPO)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Why you should have a disaster recovery testing plan in place

The recovery point objective (RPO) is the age of files that must be recovered from backup storage for normal operations to resume if a computer, system, or network goes down as a result of a hardware, program, or communications failure. The RPO is expressed backward in time (that is, into the past) from the instant at which the failure occurs, and can be specified in seconds, minutes, hours, or days. It an important consideration in disaster recovery planning (DRP).

Once the RPO for a given computer, system, or network has been defined, it determines the minimum frequency with which backup s must be made. This, along with the recovery time objective ( RTO ), helps administrators choose optimal disaster recovery technologies and procedures. For example, if the RPO is one hour, backups must be made at least once per hour. In this case, external, redundant hard drives may prove to be the best disaster recovery solution. If the RPO is five days (120 hours), then backups must be made at intervals of 120 hours or less. In that situation, tape or recordable compact disk ( CD-R ) may be adequate.

This was last updated in January 2011

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