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Recovery time objective

Recovery time objective

Also RTO

Recovery time objective definition

Recovery time objective is the target time to recover IT and business activities after a disaster. It’s the maximum acceptable length of time before the unavailability of a business process or system significantly impacts the organization.

An organization might set a short RTO for a customer-facing system (like a website or an app), which, if down, could immediately impact business operations and revenues. A longer RTO might be acceptable for internal systems that have a minimal impact on customers or revenue.

Dialog boxes typically remain on the screen until the user has interacted with them.

See also: clickjacking, scareware

Examples of recovery time objectives

  • E-commerce. An e-commerce business might set a very short RTO for its website — for example, 30 minutes or less. The website is the primary way it makes sales, so any outage directly impacts revenue. As such, the company will likely have a robust disaster recovery plan, such as redundant hosting across multiple data centers.
  • Email server. An organization might decide that it can afford to be without its email server for 2 hours. Email is important for business communication, but employees can use alternative communication methods like phone calls or instant messaging during a short outage.
  • Payroll system. The RTO for a company’s payroll system might be 24 hours or even longer. While payroll is important, it’s usually not a process that needs to be available every minute of every day. As long as the issue can be resolved before the next payroll run, there might not be any major impact on the business.
  • Customer relationship management System. For a sales-driven organization, the CRM system is essential. Any downtime means lost productivity for the sales team and possibly lost sales. The company might set an RTO of 1 hour for the CRM system, reflecting its importance to business operations.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security