Monitor, Test, Restore – Making Sure Your Backups Are Ready
Backups play a critical role in any data protection strategy. However, if you are entirely dependent on your backups for disaster recovery and business continuity, unexpected backup failures can prove disastrous for your business. When backups are scheduled automatically, you risk falling victim to media failure, software issues, cyberattacks or even a simple human error. Fortunately, you can avoid backup failure to a great extent through consistent monitoring and frequent testing. This will ensure proper data restoration when disaster strikes.
In this article, we’ll explore the step-by-step process involved in monitoring your backups, testing them and ensuring proper restoration during an unexpected disaster.
Backup status monitoring
Most businesses that rely on data for everyday operations have a consistent schedule to back up their generated data. Depending on the criticality of the data, the schedule may vary from hourly to weekly or longer. However, if your backup fails at some point, you might lose your data till the point of the last successful backup. By identifying these weaknesses early, you can mitigate your overall losses and fix the issues. This is why backup status monitoring is crucial. Failing to monitor your backups might result in a snowball effect that could continue unabated until it gets detected.
By now, it’s clear that you need to make backup monitoring part of your backup strategy. However, while monitoring is essential, most businesses cannot afford to perform it every day.
The frequency of monitoring can be based on your recoverability objectives. For instance, you could set up weekly monitoring if you deal with critical data essential to your business. This will help you identify any problems instantly and allow you to fix them without affecting your backup goals.
Backup monitoring for the scattered workforce
Implementing a backup system for all devices can be challenging when employees work from different locations. However, this doesn’t mean you can compromise on the safety of your data. This is where you need the cloud to be a part of your backup strategy. More specifically, a 3-2-1 strategy is ideal where you have at least three copies of your data — two on different platforms and one at an offsite location (cloud). With a centralized remote monitoring and management tool, you can get complete visibility into your backup tasks and remotely monitor and validate them.
Spot-checking for accuracy and quality
This is a relatively simple approach used in backup testing. Once you’ve backed up everything in your environment, you can go to the backup drive or cloud to ensure that the files or folders are available. If you are unable to access any of the files, you might have a problem with your backups. In this case, you need to check your backup configuration and drives to ensure everything is functional. You should perform these backups in multiple areas to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Full restore testing
This is more advanced than spot-checking and tests your ability to recover from complete data loss after a disaster. To perform this, you should prioritize critical files essential to your immediate recovery and test them successfully.
Prioritizing files and folders for testing
When prioritizing data for testing, you need to begin with data, applications or systems that have a low Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which refers to the maximum allowable time or duration within which a business process must be restored.
Determine the testing approach
There are various aspects to consider when testing your backups. For instance, you can create individual scenarios of virtual machines and test their ability to recover a system. You could also consider a disaster recovery approach in testing that focuses on simulating the entire environment and performing various scenario-based recovery tests. Here, the ultimate goal of testing is to verify the integrity of the backups you have created. You need to choose a testing approach suitable for your business and your IT environment.
Frequency of testing
How often should you test the integrity of your backups? To answer that question, you need to consider various factors like workload, applications, systems and more in your environment and come up with a testing schedule that works for you. In addition, you need to consider your Recovery Point Objective (RPO), which is the maximum duration your business can survive after a disaster. Always ensure that the testing frequency is well within your RPO if you wish to conform to the business continuity parameters. For instance, if your RPO is 24 hours, you need to test your backups at least once a day to ensure a good copy of data is available to recover from a loss.
A backup solution that you can count on
The last thing you want during a disaster recovery process is to find out that your backups have been failing for a long time. By monitoring and testing your backups regularly, you can overcome this issue and rely on your backups at the time of need. Most importantly, you need to invest in the right backup solution that ensures the complete recoverability of your valuable data. Need help? Reach out to us today and let us help you find an enterprise-class and robust backup solution that is tailor-made for your business.