When Was the Last Time You Tested Your Data Backups

Do you have a data backup plan? Are you confident enough that you can recover your data if your IT infrastructure fails or goes down for some time? Though it is vital to have a data recovery plan or data backup, it is essential that you test it periodically to be sure that it is reliable.

According to a study by the University of Texas, 94% of companies that lose their data do not survive.  At least 43% fail to recover from the loss, and 51% go under within two years. Data is crucial to any business, and losing it can be very catastrophic.  One of the most important things you can do for your business is to have a data backup plan and adequately test it.

How Often Should You Test Your Backups?

Data backup testing should be a regular routine. Several businesses test their backups annually. However, experts recommend weekly or monthly testing, especially for critical applications, systems, or data.

Businesses also choose to tests whenever there is a significant change to their IT infrastructure. The frequency of your testing can also be determined by:

  • An outage
  • The location of the backed up data or system
  • The chances of needing the data should there be an emergency
  • The sensitivity of the database, system, information, or data
  • The  backup methodology and technology you are using
  • Recovery response time

The frequency of the tests also depends on how much data you handle, your co-operate level, or risks. It would help if you discussed more about your backup needs with your IT provider to allow them to come up with the right data backup and testing frequency.

If you do not have a reliable IT infrastructure or company, the first step would be to get an IT partner that you can rely on. Several companies lose their data because of working with the wrong IT company.

When choosing a data backup provider, insist on working with a company that conducts regular backup and recovery tests. Your IT company should also use advanced backup and storage technology that will ensure that your company can quickly access backups in case of an emergency.

What to Test

The main aim of testing backups is to ensure that a business can access and retrieve its data when it needs and continue with its operations. You should test to ensure that you can restore all your folders, files, and any other information.

You should also be able to recover any unstructured or user data from NAS volumes or servers. Remember, it is not enough that you restore data from the cloud, tape, or any backup volume that you have.  Your business should plan for disasters or vulnerabilities that can damage the entire IT environment and not just some data stored on the cloud.

You should also test to know if you can install new hardware or failover to a backup site and restore data in case of hardware or electrical failure.  When testing, it is vital to know if your backup can fully restore your data.

The IT company should also conduct small-scale tests for vulnerable or vital data and the ability to recover corrupted or deleted files. Lastly, they should also periodically conduct large-scale disaster recovery drills and test if they can recover any data held off-site in the cloud and in software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

Is the Recovery Consistent?

Businesses should test if their backups work physically. This can be in the form of tapes or any removable media. The recovery software should restore data from the cloud, disks, and any off-site data center successfully.

Moving huge volumes of media and restoring over LAN and WAN can be a challenge when it comes to DR. During testing, your IT company will know the weak spots and confirm if your business can meet RPO, RTO, and any other regulatory requirements.

The IT company should ensure that the backup and recovery process is consistent across applications and departments in line with the data recovery policy.  The recovery should also remain consistent across the cloud, external and internal data stores. When testing, the IT company should document and show proof of the test.

Mistakes Not to Make When Testing

It is crucial to test recovery software and backup tapes. Try not to run a run or conduct a special backup in preparation for a recovery test. When you do this, you will run a clean backup by getting all users out of the system and running the test manually while watching for any problems.

When you do this, you may not know what information or files require frequent backups and might fail to back up the vital files. Special backups might make it seem that the test is successful, but you may fail to know how well your backups work.

Your IT company should test all your backups and not a few sample files. A good recovery system should restore the entire server, computer, programs, or backup system. Testing a few files will not show you how reliable your data backups are.

When testing, do not restore data back to the original server or computer. You may have forgotten the configuration or compatibility problems that you had handled when setting up the system. Remember not to get complacent. Run a real full system restore to ensure that you are ready to deal with the inevitable.

A backup schedule is invalid if some software setting or equipment glitch causes data restoration to fail. Testing should reveal such problems because the aim is to ensure that you can recover everything from the backups.

Final Word

Your data backup system is as good as your last test.  Regardless of where your database is, your existing IT company should provide you with a backup system that you can entirely rely on in case of any disaster or data loss. If you need an upgrade in your IT infrastructure or have any questions on data backup and recovery, reach out to us anytime. We are ready to talk to you and provide you with the best IT services for your business. Visit our website for more tech tips.

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