Actual Checks may reveal your backups are failing and NOT REALLY succeeding at all.
You would be suprised how often we come across a new client, that thought their backups where completing and actually was not doing a bit of good….
If you own your own business, and have not actually tested your backups lately, your not alone. You would think with automation, scheduled tasks, and a fancy user interfaces that all your woes and sorrows of doing data backup are a thing of the past right? The fact is hardly anyone actually checks the backups, and those that say they do, simply trust a report or graph that says its completed the task. I thought I would share my opinion on the, and provide a few examples of what a backup check should be.
Example 1: Have you actually restored the data to check its integrity, and see if the files are actually usable, or readable?
“Seeing is believing”, by performing a restore, or at least partial restore you can easily examine the contents of the backed up files. In the case of backing up the entire server, many software features include browsing through (or mounting) the “IMAGE” or “Virtual Drive” created to open and validate the duplicate data.
Example 2: If you have a device like a tape backup, or hard drive media, is it in sound condition? Is it actually in good health?
Hardware failure of drives and media, are very common. I can’t even begin to count how many times a client had bad hard drives, or tapes, and still continued to think they had good backups. The media will wear out, and the drives will get old. If your Hard Drive is over the manufacturers warranty period, you can bet this device is on borrowed time. Replace it! Hard Drives are cheap enough, and considered disposable like their predecessors such as tape, and other portable drive media.
Example 3: What do you do, if the system reports it was “unable to backup certain files”, yet reports that it is good, and completed?
Well first of all, its probably the lack of proper software. Many common programs such as Quickbooks, SQL, Exchange, or nearly any “Open” file in use, can contribute to these types of errors. Getting software that uses the proper “Shadow Copy” and “Hypervisor” management features are a must, if you expect to capture data while its potentially being used by users on your network. Good software tends to easily handle “open files” and provide great feedback to which files need to be backed up. If your software lacks these features, you can consider making all users log off, or stop using files that are “Locked” due to use, then try the backup again.
Example 4: How much downtime would be caused, and who is responsible to check your backups frequently?
Downtime varies of course depending on business type, and of course how a complete data loss will affect your business. Its good practice, to review your backup scheme, to ensure all your data you want to keep is indeed, on the backup roster. Checking to ensure all your files are properly selected is a must do, since at times locations can change and new programs can be added to the lineup. Don’t assume your backup software will automatically know if you added software.
Example 5: Examine your software settings for “consistency checks” to improve the quality of the overall backup.
Many software titles now offer checks that “check parity” or “Metadata” against the original files. This process help validate an exact
copy of the files intended to backup. If your software does not have these features, it may be time to review your backup software.
All these things are primarily the reason behind backups and Absolute Care.
The good news is its free, to have a professional consultant look over your backup scheme! Contact our team and we can work with you to make sure you don’t fall victim to this easily addressed issue.