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Article

Five Common Backup and Recovery Mistakes

And famous last words of the guy who use to perform your backups

IT Strategy

Server backup and recovery isn’t rocket surgery, but you would be surprised by the number of IT organizations that can’t get it right. Here are five of the most common mistakes that I have seen.

1. “Don’t worry, it’s Backed Up”

Famous last words! Is it really? Prove it! Just because you have run a backup procedure, throw in a fresh tape into the drive doesn’t necessarily mean that the server(s) are protected. Over confidence or misconceptions about backup are common mistakes. It’s like having a plan without ever testing. So, test it. If you have data backed up when was the last time you tried to restore it, is the data any good? How long did the process take? Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure that your backup and recovery procedures are exercised as a part of your business continuity plan and test the integrity of the data that is on the backup media, whether that is disk or tape.

2. “I have everything backed up”

Great genius but do you really need a copy of everything on that server? Specifically a file share server because I can guarantee you that someone has their iTunes database backed up to their file share so they don’t lose their favorite Wilco song. Evaluating what needs to be backed up in order to recover servers to a functional level and is often overlooked as a part of the backup planning process. 2009 through 1020 is the beginning of the “Be Green” “only consume what you need” generation and having everything isn’t always what you need and is likely costing the company money to keep it all archived. Don’t waste tape or disk space backing up files that aren’t necessary to the recovery process. Excluding any multimedia (wmv, wav, mp3), temp files or duplicate files using data deduplication will only help assure the necessary data required to recover what is important to the company is protected.

3. “I can recover from Tape”

Really? Is that where you want it? I know that it is possible but did anyone check the integrity of the data on the tape? Nothing lasts forever and although tape has a great track record there are issues that can cause data on tape to be unrecoverable. I had the opportunity to speak with the CIO of a large gaming facility a few years ago and he was telling me how he was nervous that they had all of this tape archived at an offsite facility but worried about the integrity of the tape and their ability to be able to recover an entire data center if necessary. If the data is kept at an optimum temperature, with low humidity then it can probably last a lifetime but I’d like to meet the person who would want to perform this recovery. Not me nor anyone that I know wants to attempt to recover a datacenter from tape. There is just too high of a probability of something going wrong, from the restore order, data spanning multiple tapes and oh yea, we all remember operator error, right?

4. “It will be back up in 15 minutes”

Know the recovery time objective of the servers that are necessary for resuming operations to a functional level. If the data that you need to recover is on a truck driving around the greater metropolitan city then it might take a while to get that. Keeping a copy of the backups on disk locally will help for immediate backup and restoration and then if something happens to that then you go to the tape truck, but the tape truck shouldn’t be the first option. Know how long it will take to recover and basic transfer rates. Remember recovery time will be limited by how fast data can be written to disk and a conservative estimate is about 20 gigabytes per hour if not less. So, lets’ do the math, if you have a 100 GB of data backed up that is going to take roughly 5 hours to recover.

5. “I Got the Print Servers Recovered First”

Wonderful, now if I only had an e-mail or file I could access to print. Recover what is critical to resuming business operations first, then worry about the end users being able to print or view their archived documents later. Restoring communication like Microsoft Exchange, websites or any other functions that allow the company to communicate and create revenue should be top of the list. Second priority should be other tier 2 or 3 operations that are less critical to the operations of the business. This comes down to knowing what the business continuity plan requires, what servers and functions are identified as being most critical and testing the recovery process often.

In Summary, Don’t be “That Guy” who thought he was covered. “Be the ball, Danny!” and become one with your backup and recovery procedure through effective planning, validation and recovery exercises that allow the team to be successful.

More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com