RTO and RPO: Measuring Downtime - Zerto


A-to-Zerto Glossary of Terms



Recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) are two of the most important metrics of any disaster recovery plan and are measured in units of time. They deal with data loss and recovery time for data and applications in the event of a disaster. Low RTOs and RPOs are key to achieving IT resilience.  

What Are RTO and RPO?

Recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are measurements of disaster recovery effectiveness. RTO and RPO are often related directly to service level agreements (SLAs) which may be internal or external regulatory requirements for data recovery.

Diagram illustrating the concept of RTO and RPO
  • RTO represents the amount of downtime that can be expected before operations, including data and application services, are back online following a disruption. RTO may be influenced by many factors, including the level of manual vs. automated recovery processes such as boot ordering of VMs, redirecting network traffic, recovering application stacks consistently, etc.
  • RPO refers to most recent point in time in which a known, good copy of data is available to recover a system. The further back in time a recovery point exists, the more data is lost in a recovery. RPO is used to measure data loss in a disaster recovery scenario. RPO is often dictated by the data protection solution used: backups, storage replication, continuous data replication.

DR 101: Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

DR 101: Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

How to Interpret RTO and RPO?

In a disaster recovery scenario, it is desirable to achieve the fastest recovery time or best RTO, and the least amount of data loss or best RPO. Because RTO and RPO are measured in time, the desirable RTO and RPO are often referred to as “low” RTO and RPO vs. undesirable “high” RTO and RPO.

  • Natural disasters
  • Labor disagreements

Financial Implications of RPO and RTO

The costs associated with downtime, measured by RTO, i.e., while waiting for applications and data to be recovered, can result in significant losses in revenue and productivity as well as loss of reputation and customer loyalty. For most businesses, the cost related to data loss, measured by RPO, can easily reach six figures. Data loss can also incur costs related to loss of reputation and customer loyalty.

The figure below illustrates the financial impact RPO and RTO would have on a company with $100M revenues, based on three different solutions.

Table showing financial impact of data loss and downtime in relation to RTO and RPO

Together, low RTO and low RPO are the foundation of any disaster recovery plan. Both help businesses understand the actual costs of data disruption to help businesses plan and prepare for a disaster, whether it’s an unplanned outage, an act of nature, or a ransomware attack.

RPOs & RTOs: Lowering the Cost of Recovery

Optimizing Your RTO and RPO

A successful disaster recovery solution should include certain features to help you optimize your RTO and RPO.

  • Continuous data protection (CDP). CDP is always on and replicating the most recently changed data, offering much lower RPOs than snapshot-based backups—with significantly less data loss.
  • Journal-based recovery. Granular journal technology allows you to rewind specific components and recover to the precise moment (down to the second) immediately before a disruption, giving you the lowest RPOs possible.
  • Orchestration and automation. These elements are essential for a disaster recovery strategy, as they allow you to test your disaster recovery plan and minimize downtime before a disruption occurs, helping you to get your RTOs as low as possible.
  • Scalable architecture. A flexible, scalable architecture simplifies and reduces recovery time from a disaster of any size, from one application to an entire server.

Achieve the Lowest RTO and RPO in the Industry with Zerto

In today’s digital business world, it is more important than ever to keep these objective times as low as possible. Luckily, lowering RPO and RTO to within a few seconds is not only possible but simple with Zerto. 

Zerto consistently achieves the lowest RTO and RPO in the industry to help businesses become IT resilient. This solution adapts your organization’s disaster recovery strategy to keep these objective times as low as possible. In fact, Zerto can prevent data losses almost entirely. 

Zerto Solution Overview

Other Resources


Resource Center

Discover and access content from Zerto and 3rd parties (IDC, Gartner, ESG, etc.) related to RPO and RTO.

Disaster Recovery Essentials

Learn about the essential elements part of disaster recovery.

DR Testing Essentials

Testing is essential to ensure you can achieve your target RTOs and RPOs. Make sure you are safe and can deliver on your SLAs.

What is Zerto?

Learn about Zerto and how it can help you solve your data protection and recovery challenges.