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What is the difference between RTO and RPO?

Industry Recommendations for Salesforce Data Protection

Source: ChatGPT by OpenAI

Anyone experienced in data backup and disaster recovery knows how critical RTO and RPO are to their success. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) are essential parts of business continuity planning. However, a lot of people are confused over how they work together, how to calculate appropriate levels, and how to cost-effectively implement them while minimizing lost data. 

This blog will cover their importance, determination, and impact – and dive into the latest customer expectations for Salesforce RPO and RTO.  

First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page by defining exactly what RTO and RPO mean.  

What is Recovery Time Objective?

RTO is a measure of how quickly after an outage an application must be available again. It dictates how much time it takes for a business to recover its operations and return to normal functionality after a disaster hits. The longer it takes, the greater the potential impact on productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

Expressed in time units such as hours, minutes, or days, RTO varies based on an organization’s unique needs and industry requirements. For instance, a financial institution might have a much lower RTO than a retailer due to the sensitivity and time-critical nature of financial transactions and compliance regulations.

What is Recovery Point Objective?

While RTO looks forward, focusing on recovery time, RPO looks back, considering data backup timing and potential losses. 

RPO is focused on data integrity. It tells you how fresh data will be once it’s recovered. In essence, RPO answers the question: “How much data can we afford to lose?”  

When you set an RPO, you’re setting the maximum acceptable amount of data loss you’re willing to tolerate during a disruption. RPO is all about the frequency of data backups. As you’d expect, then, it’s measured in time units. For example, if an organization has an RPO of one hour, it means that in the event of a disruption they can afford to lose no more than one hour’s worth of data.

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Determining Appropriate RTO and RPO Targets

Some organizations fall into the trap of setting arbitrarily aggressive RTO and RPO targets. While it might seem ideal to have the lowest possible RTO and RPO, doing so requires faster recovery solutions and more regular backups. This can lead to increased costs, resource strain, and unnecessary complexity.

It’s important to establish realistic objectives that genuinely improve your organization’s resilience and fit your industry, business model, budget parameters, and operational requirements.

Determining appropriate RTO and RPO requires a thorough understanding of your business processes, the importance of different applications and use cases and the impact of potential disruptions. 

Make sure to involve key stakeholders, including business leaders, IT teams, and relevant department heads in the decision-making process. Their input is invaluable for understanding the business impact of disruptions and how much your organization is willing to spend to minimize them. 

Source: ChatGPT by OpenAI

Answer these questions when calculating RTO and RPO

  • How time-sensitive are your operations? Differentiate between critical and non-critical processes and categorize applications by priority and potential loss when establishing RTOs.
  • What resources are available to help meet objectives? For instance, near-zero RTOs require failover services. Do you have the staff, solutions, and equipment for that?
  • What is the acceptable data loss for your organization? What does each minute of downtime for this service cost, either in lost revenue or productivity? Assess the impact and set RPO accordingly.
  • How often does this type of data change? Some organizations and use cases have rapidly changing data, while others have more stable data. The frequency of change influences RPO.
  • What are the compliance and regulatory requirements? Ensure that your RTO and RPO align with industry standards and legal obligations. 

Salesforce RPO and RTO Expectations 

Businesses that rely on mission-critical applications like Salesforce are increasingly setting aggressive RPOs and RTOs with near real-time expectations. This is because their businesses can’t afford to lose any data and need to be back to normal operations ASAP.

According to ESG, 40% of Salesforce customers have an RPO tolerance of less than 15 minutes – and 20% dictate no data loss at all in their disaster recovery plans.

Source: SaaS Data Backup: Transforming from Insurance Policy to Strategic Value Driver

For a typical scenario with a 15-minute RPO, where an organization aims to recover to a point no more than 15 minutes before the incident, the RTO would also be relatively short. This is done to ensure the recovery process is completed promptly after the last valid data point.

In practical terms, Salesforce customers with a 15-minute RPO might target an RTO in the range of 15 minutes to an hour. It allows for efficient data recovery and system restoration, minimizing the impact on operations and ensuring that they can resume normal activities with minimal disruption.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. RPO and RTO values change based on each business’ unique requirements, needs, and objectives. High-priority systems or critical applications may have lower RTOs, while less critical systems may have slightly more lenient objectives. 

The determination of RTO involves a careful balance between the desired speed of recovery and the practical considerations of implementing and maintaining the necessary recovery mechanisms. Considerations for scalability, operational strain, and data integrity must be made.


As the organization grows and Salesforce application usage and data volumes expand, maintaining an extremely low RTO and RPO may become increasingly challenging.

Operational Strain

Managing an aggressive Salesforce RTO requires rapid response mechanisms and well-defined procedures. This can put a strain on IT and operational teams, potentially leading to errors in execution and coordination during the disaster recovery process.

Data Integrity

Low Salesforce RPOs might not provide sufficient time for comprehensive data validation and quality checks during the recovery process. This increases the risk of data inconsistencies. RTO and RPO objectives help businesses balance the cost of implementing robust disaster recovery solutions with the potential financial impact of disruptions. Make sure the data backup and recovery solutions you choose are up for the challenge. Solutions like GRAX can be the make or break factor in your organization’s ability to survive and thrive in the face of disruptions. 

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