Sally, have you got a safe copy of the last backup?
OBSESSED ABOUT BACKUP? YOU SHOULD BE.
Backup is a fundamental part of your disaster recovery plan. It is a copy of your intellectual property and a crucial prerequisite to recovering from system failure, but are you sufficiently prepared?
I am sure that, if asked, most of my clients would confirm there is one thing I am particularly obsessive about – and that is data backup.
My attention to detail in this particular topic stems from the days when I was employed as an IT Manager for a garments manufacturer. It was during this time I discovered the absolutely critical need for backing up company data.
One of my many responsibilities was to co-ordinate and manage the server backups. We used a tape drive at the time, and each night before leaving I would remove the tape and take it with me in my handbag.
One Friday evening, as I was preparing to depart for two weeks annual leave, I ran the backup, then took the tape home with me as usual. Before leaving, I inserted the next tape in the sequence ready for the next week. However, the following Monday morning, as I was enjoying my first lie in, my boss called to say there had been a burglary at work over the weekend. All of the computer equipment had been stolen – including the server.
This was serious. The entire organization was not only without any tech, but all of this business’s intellectual property was gone. My boss then asked me a question that resonates to this day:
At that moment, I realized I had been performing the backup routine on autopilot, so I could not be 100% sure I had the tape without checking. The hurried dash to retrieve the tape seemed to occur in slow motion. When I finally located my bag I began rummaging through it rapidly – as if my entire life depended upon its whereabouts. As soon as I located the tape, I found myself embracing like it was a long lost child.
I exhaled a sigh of relief, before an awful doubting question dawned from within; “Did the backup to this tape complete successfully?”
The fact was, I could not recall whether or not I had checked the backup logs. Without a server to restore to, this question went unanswered for several hours, whilst everyone waited for the delivery of new equipment. Once it all arrived, the recovery operation began. It seemed like an age before I was able to attempt to restore from the backup. All eyes were on this single tape, which cost just £1.20 to buy and yet held the entire company’s data worth over five million pounds to my employer. The device was mounted, the application started and the settings for recovery initiated. Then we had to wait.
Within just a few moments, we were relieved to see that the familiar directory structures were starting to reappear. Recovery was 100% successful – our adopted routine and the tape had saved the day. And the most valuable lesson was learned.
Data is the most important aspect of your IT infrastructure. The operating system and other software can be reinstalled but it may be difficult or impossible to recreate your original data.
Backup is a fundamental part of your disaster recovery plan. It is a copy of your company’s intellectual property and a crucial prerequisite to recovering from system failure. Removing the backup from site is also critical in order to safeguard against potential disaster such as fire, flood or theft.
Ensure backup logs are reviewed daily. If the backup tool facilitates email reports, be sure this is enabled – if not you will need to check the logs manually.
Appoint at least two members of staff to monitor the backup. This will eliminate user error and will allow for staff absences. Ensure the backup media is being rotated and regularly removed from site.
Introducing a formal backup procedure as described above is a great ways of protecting yourself from data loss.