Backup Recovery Testing
How important is backup recovery testing? You wouldn’t make a large expensive purchase like buying a new car without trying it out – would you? If not; then why would you trust the survival of your business on something you haven’t tried out?
Benefits backup recovery testing gives to businesses
There are many benefits provided when performing test recoveries on business backups. Below are the three areas we see provide the largest gains:
This one is the same with any technical or IT area. There are many different ways to perform the same task (especially in technology). Screens can differ depending on selections and options.
When under duress (which is what a disaster recovery scenario will do to you); it’s better to be able to rely on past experiences and automatically react. The alternative is time being spent reading documentation; figuring out what different settings do and causing unnecessary stress.
If you’re unsure how do to something; when trying it for the first time it’s unlikely to go smoothly. It’s also unwise to believe that if the backup was successful, then the recovery process will be just as simple. They’re two different processes (like forward and reverse in a car) that act completely differently.
Following from validation is that if something is found during testing; there is a chance to resolve any minor (or major) hiccups without affecting anyone.
This can include finding that data that is intended to be included in the backup isn’t, the backup solution you’re using has a coding error (or ‘bug’) preventing a successful restore.
Then why don’t more businesses test their backups…
Having spoken to many VAR’s and MSP’s over time; we have found the major pain points that prevent backup testing from happening include:
This comes in two forms; people and hardware. To perform a recovery from backup could take a day (or more) depending on how much setting up and data has to be restored.
It may also be inefficient to have a spare machine or environment dedicated to recovery when it’s only going to be used every so often.
Running the IT for a company (or in many VAR’s and MSP’s cases many companies) on a day to day basis does take a lot of time. Putting out spot fires, scheduling and running updates, ordering and configuring systems from the ground up. There’s always plenty to do!
As mentioned above; there is always something to be done, or has a higher priority than ‘testing’ for something that may or may not happen. However; Murphy’s Law dictates that if something will go wrong, it’ll happen at the most inopportune time. It’s better to spend a day or two going through and validating that all recovery scenarios pass as expected.
This way; the day when an IT crisis hits your business or a client’s business you’ll look fondly back on the backup recovery testing you’ve performed and think it was worth the time after all!
Over reliance on technical support
While it’s always good to have technical support to fall back on; it may not always be the best to exclusively rely on them to solve your IT problems. In some instances they may actually have less technical knowledge about the software and process than you do. They also don’t have the inside knowledge of the environment that a System Administrator or MSP would either.
What this all comes down to is efficiency. If you rely on a third party completely; there is going to be extended down time during an IT outage which only increases the pressure.
Regularly test backups
This is always the major question. How regularly should testing backups for recovery purposes happen? Unfortunately there is no ‘clear’ answer as it comes down to individual requirements.
As a general rule; Test My Backups recommends performing backup recovery testing once a month. If this isn’t possible (although if you read further down you’ll find it’s always possible); then at the minimum once each quarter.
Some backup solutions (such as Altaro) provide in-built testing methods; which make it incredibly easy to run tests without too much trouble. However; it’s always better to make the tests as close to a live situation as possible.
What to do if you’re unable to test your backups…
Now we know that it takes time and resources to constantly test backups; usually better spent on other tasks. That’s where Test My Backups comes in handy for businesses.
Offering recovery testing as part of all our Managed Backup subscriptions (which start from only $199 per month).
If you’d like to have us test on an ad hoc basis – then we’re able to do this as well! Just let us know.