4 ways to avoid being paralysed by your backups

It seems that backups are more often than not seen as a necessary evil. To the IT team it’s just another dreary admin task. To the business it’s just another cost of IT.

That is until it all goes pear-shaped. Now, your business is paralysed and at the mercy of a lengthy data restore.

Many IT teams simply work around backups. Here’s some sure fire ways to know that you’re neglecting your backup regime and putting your business at risk:

1. You don’t test your backups

By far and away this is something we see literally every day. Backups might be configured properly and the might be setup in a way that suits the business needs yet no one does any testing.

Testing that your backups are working and you know for sure that you can restore data.More importantly, when you test your backups you know how long it takes to bring data back. Armed with this information you can reset the businesses expectations when it comes to data recovery.

2. You’re backing up the wrong stuff

Or you might be backing up the wrong way. Who has designed the backup regime and who has signed off on what gets backed up? We’ve seen it all here too: Backup configurations where only email databases are included in jobs without the ability to do granular restores of email items; backups of data drives only and completely ignoring the operating system and applications; Backups completely missing business critical components.

All businesses need to have the backup and recovery strategy built around their Business Continuity Plan. Making sure the right data is backed up and can be recovered needs to be designed through a consultative approach right across the business.

3. You only backup once per day

Sure, some stuff doesn’t need to be backed up more than once per day.

The demands on your company today, I’m sure, will dictate that you are minimising the risk of data loss as much as possible. Ordinarily that means that you need to backup your business-critical systems more than once per day. The CEO doesn’t want to hear that the contract he’s lost can only be restored from yesterday and all the changes he made in the morning are gone!

4. Long term retention doesn’t exist

Again, this is another area where you are playing with fire. We’re not necessarily talking about tape here either.

All Australian businesses have a requirement to maintain their tax records for 5 years. Many other industries have guidelines of how long data needs to be kept for.

Long term retention also protects your business against physical problems with your equipment such as fire, flood, theft, failure, etc. Other than storage considerations for archived data (do you need it on your production environment anymore?), one real benefit of long term data retention is to guard against corruption. More often than not, by the time you find out that your data is inaccessible, it’s been like that for a while. The only way to recover could be to dive back into your earlier backups. If you have them.

Some quick tips on turning it around…

Get all your stakeholders together and review exactly what you are backing up today. Next, review how you can recover. Include what, how long, what impact on staff and clients any recovery is going to have. Finally, review all your business continuity plan and align your backups to suit.

If your truthful you may need to revisit your BCP and make some changes here and there. It’s important that everyone is on the same page. The IT team can’t be hung out to dry if the backup and recovery strategy is what the business asks for. Expectations, however, are another matter.

Sure, backups are necessary. However, the day to day management of backups doesn’t have to be a chore. From the business side, the value of the data and the cost to the business when it’s not available is too great to sweep it under the rug.

Of course, if you find managing your backups are taking you away from doing things you should be doing, we’re happy to help out and look after the whole process for you – just drop us a line.