Testing your backup strategy

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I have been again reminded of a problem that is at the core of IT and something that is plaguing businesses everywhere, the problem is bad backups. Here are a few examples:

A news story today at CNN about how the State of Alaska had three layers of data backup and all failed with their system of giving back oil revenue to Alaska residents.

This just goes to show how important data protection is not just for businesses but also for personal and even government systems.

A story from a friend of mine that a server was being backed up for three years but the Windows folder was never backed up and when the Active Directory failed it could not be brought back

My own machine at home that was living with an error in the Norton Ghost software that failed to back up my machine correctly.

There are so many computer back up horror stories but they are all able to be mitigated by using one strategy on a monthly basis. Do restores of your backups once a month to test that everything is still working.

When it comes to backups and restores we all hope htat we will never have to use them but there is always that chancce…otherwise we would not do the backup in the first place. All you need to do to test your system is to find an identical piece of hardware and do a restore to that hardware.

There is never enough IT budget to do things like mock restores of backup but if we as IT pros do not do this kind of testing then all of the responsibility that our users are giving to us may be for not when the disaster strikes with hardware, user error or even some kind of act of good that forces us to restore from tape.