Business Continuity Terminology – What’s the difference between MTO, RTO and RPO?

A common query that we come across in business continuity consulting is, ‘what is the difference between MTO, RTO and RPO?’

MTO is the Maximum Tolerable Outage
The Maximum Tolerable Outage for a critical business process represents the maximum amount of time that an organization can survive without the business process in any form (manual or automated). Defining the MTO for a process gives you the deadline for when this process must be up and running in some form or another.

RTO is Recovery Time Objective
Recovery Time Objective is essentially the timeframe requirement for how long it should take to recover from the time of declaring the disaster (not the time of the actual incident) to when the critical process or system is available to users.

RPO is the Recovery Point Objective
The Recovery Point Objective  describes the age of the data you want to restore in the event of a disaster. For example if your RPO is 6 hours, you want to restore systems back to the state they were in no longer than 6 hours ago. This dictates your backup requirements, in this example you must be making data backups at least every 6 hours. Any data created up to the 6 hour RPO will be lost and will need to be recreated during your recovery process (if possible).