Test Your Backup!
Your data is vital for your organization’s continuity. Your data consists of everything from your company documents, accounting records, client contact information, prospects and leads, procedures, and everything else needed for you to keep operations running smoothly. That’s why all businesses need a solid backup solution that is monitored and tested regularly.
Why Should I Test My Backup?
As with anything, your backup solution isn’t infallible. A lot can go wrong when your backup is running, for example:
- Hardware/media failure
- Software failure
- Compatibility issues
- Network connectivity issues
- User error
- Task scheduling issues
- Files-in-use issues (especially for older backup solutions)
Many backup solutions have a verification process to attempt to verify that a backup was taken properly and spit back any errors in the backup software if anything was found. Even the old, slow tape backup systems from a decade ago often had features like this. The problem is that sometimes with tape, the tape could be degraded to the point that it passes the verification test but ends up being partially or fully unreadable when it comes time to pull the data.
If you can’t tell, we don't prefer tape backup. It’s slow, arduous, and not very reliable, and the restoration process takes an incredibly long time compared to more modern methods.
Hard drive-based backup, including NAS (Network Attached Storage) and BDR (Backup and Disaster Recovery) solutions are much more reliable from a technical standpoint, but could still suffer issues if not configured properly or if they run into roadblocks like network connectivity issues.
Testing your backup could also reveal files, applications, or databases that aren’t getting backed up properly. It’s easy to configure your backup, and then install some new software later down the road and forget to make sure the data is getting backed up.
You want your data to be backed up and complete so in the event you need it, you can restore everything and be up and running quickly.
How to Test Your Backup
Essentially, you’ll want to deploy your backup in a virtual environment and run off of it. This simulates a catastrophic data loss event and lets you and your staff see if they can get by based on the data stored in the backup.
Not all backup solutions allow you to do this. Tape backups, for example, can’t be run or accessed off of the tape, so you would actually need to extract the archived data from the tape and redeploy it on a secondary or virtualized server. This could take several hours or even days to do, and by then the backup won’t be up-to-date.
Our BDR solution, however, allows us to virtualize your server and spin everything up. The process looks something like this:
- Temporarily disable/disconnect your server from the network, simulating a hardware failure.
- Spin up the backed up virtual copy of your server on the BDR.
- Have the BDR take over all of the roles and responsibilities of your server.
- Your network should be back up and running at this point, and all data should be fully accessible by your staff.
If it were a real hardware disaster, your BDR could serve as kind of a spare tire for your network, taking over for the server that had the issue. Things might be a little slower until the downed server is repaired or replaced, but at least operations can still run.
If you’ve been backing up your data (and you absolutely, definitely, positively, without-a-doubt NEED to), you should also be testing the consistency of your backup. Let’s take a look at your backup and run a test to see if everything is actually getting backed up so you aren’t surprised when you actually need it.
Give us a call at 607.433.2200 to get started.