Scheduled Testing of Backups
Are You Going to Be Able to Successfully Restore Your Data After a Critical Computer Failure?
As many of you know, regular “disaster recovery” quality backups are a cornerstone of CKWEST IT Solutions’ “worry free IT” strategy. Knowing that your data is
a) backed up and
b) can be easily restored without data loss
means that everyone sleeps well at night – my clients, you and me. This does raise the question, will these backups be usable in a critical or routine data restore situation be it an entire computer, server or even a single file?
During my time 20 year ago at a large outsourced Managed IT Services company, “disaster recovery” (DR) exercises were done on a yearly basis in conjunction with a data centre in the Northeastern U.S.
What I remember most about the exercise is how absolutely exhausted my manager sounded on the phone after being up for more than 36 hours. These DR exercises were part of my employer’s service agreement with the client, a financial institution.
Data backups should be tested at least quarterly or on a schedule that you are comfortable with. This ensures that file/folder restores from cloud backups are successful and that data restores from local devices onsite – either an external USB drive or a Datto Business Continuity appliance has you back at work in a minimum of time.
A True Story
Back in the days of tape backups (not so long ago) there was the story of a company that sent home the server backup tapes every night with a key employee from their IT department. The employee commuted every day to and from work on public transit, which included one leg of the journey on the SkyTrain.
When the company experienced a critical server hardware failure, the initial reaction was relief thanks to the offsite backups the employee was taking home every night – or so they thought.
Backup tape, which is magnetic media, is highly sensitive to electromagnetic fields such as those on the SkyTrain. Every night the employee would put his briefcase (which contained the backup tape) on the SkyTrain floor either while standing or seated.
The very strong electromagnetic fields coming up through the floor of the electrically powered SkyTrain erased out all the data on the tape – the company’s data was wiped out. This wouldn’t have happened if they had a schedule of regular backup tests.
I’m including this story to emphasize the importance of testing backups regularly. It’s not enough to receive a “successful backup” confirmation email, pop-up or even a daily screen shot of a freshly booted virtual desktop. Backup restores should be tested on a regular basis.