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We talk to businesses about data backup and recovery all the time and we’ve started noticing a worrisome trend. There’s no doubt that most modern business professionals know that backup solutions are a must. However, when we ask if and how often professionals are testing the solutions they have in place, we get the ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look.
Why your backup solutions mean nothing if they haven’t been tested
Listen, we’re not here to tell you all things you’ve heard before. We know you get it. In a highly-virtualized business environment backup and data recovery is critical to protecting business continuity. We’re also not going to try and compare or promote any specific backup solutions. You know the kind of solution that works for you and that’s great.
What we are hoping to emphasize, however, is the critical importance of testing your backup solutions – no matter what they look like. It’s not enough to just shop around for a backup solution and set it up. To make sure your backup solution is operating as it’s supposed to, you and your team must test them. It may sound dramatic, but the truth is, if you’ve never tested your backups, you can write them off as totally worthless.
The best way we can explain it is with an analogy. Think about the last time you left your house. You gather your things and as you leave you shut the door and lock it. Now, do you walk away right after locking the door? Chances are you don’t. Instead, you give the door-knob a jiggle to make sure it is locked properly.
Why? Because you know how valuable the things in your home are. You would never take a chance and leave your things exposed to unnecessary risk. When you truly value you something, you always give its security a second thought. You want to know that the efforts your making to protect your stuff are doing the job.
Handling your business backups should be no different. The data you store is critically important to your business and setting up a backup solution is really just the first step. Coming up with a plan for testing your backups and ensuring their functionality is the only way to know for sure if your data will be salvageable in case of disaster.
No matter what kind of backups you use – onsite or in the Cloud – there’s no point in relying on them without a detailed plan for testing them and making sure they work. As with all other areas of your business, you should prioritize backup testing by making a detailed plan for how, when and how often you will test them. There are endless backup solutions on the market, but for the purposes of this article, we’re hoping to introduce you to some basic guidelines to keep in mind when testing your backups.
Check out our top three suggestions for testing your business backups:
The best way to ensure your backup tests are worthwhile is to be proactive and go in with a plan. In creating a plan for backup testing, be holistic. Take a look at your entire business network and determine what data is backed up and which backups need to be tested.
Get backup policies and procedures on paper and make them available to your team for review. This will help emphasize the importance of ensuring data backups are functional. Furthermore, asses your data stores and make note of the reasons why backups are so critical whether for legal, compliance or continuity reasons.
Another great way to ensure your data backups are prioritized is to create a backup testing schedule. By setting out clear dates and times for backups to be tested, the reminder will always be in the back of your head. Also, be sure to take advantage of automation technologies that can execute your backup tests automatically at pre-scheduled times.
Additionally, backups should NOT be tested only once. In fact, in an ideal world, your organization would test your backups each time new data was backed up. However, this isn’t entirely realistic in a fast-paced work environment. So, come up with a regular schedule and test your backups frequently and consistently. By making it a routine, you’ll develop a more consistent approach to data recovery and business continuity.
Finally, its critical to make sure that your backup tests are accurate. Have your system administrator ensure that the backup test results are clear and accurate. Another great way to ensure accuracy is to check with your team regularly after backup tests to ensure that restored data is consistent and accurate.
Furthermore, it’s absolutely essential that you create redundant backups for all the data you’re seeking to protect. This means backing up each data set to more than one location. By creating redundant backups, your team will always have a ‘second chance’ to restore stolen or lost data. Again, it’s like locking your house. Chances are you don’t have just one key – you’ve made a copy and keep it somewhere discreet in case the first key is lost or doesn’t work. Treat your data backups the same way!
We get it. You and your team are busy enough as it is with mission-critical daily business tasks. The idea of taking on regular backup testing can seem like a thorn in the side. However, the true benefit of backup testing can’t be known until your team suffers some kind of data emergency. You don’t want to wait until your network crashes or data is stolen to start thinking about whether or not your backups work.
Without testing, you’ll never know if your backup was set up correctly or is set to be online consistently. Additionally, without regularly scheduled backup tests, your team won’t be able to identify any other bugs or problems that may be keeping your backups dysfunctional. It’s critical to test them, make sure everything’s working and iron out issues before you’re faced with a data disaster. Your bottom line and business continuity will thank you later.
It doesn’t have to be a huge chore either! Take a moment and find out exactly what kind of backups your using, determine the best way to test them regularly and commit to making sure they’re functional on a regular basis. Like we said, without regular testing, you can pretty much write off your backups as a wasted investment. So, when in doubt, reach out to an IT expert for consultation and guidance on making sure your backup equipment isn’t useless.
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