Is the backup media worth more than your data?
With data capacity demands on the constant rise, backups are becoming ever more essential. We’ve witnessed a wide variety of backup implementations over the years – some good, some bad and some totally horrific! Here’s a list of 10 considerations to help keep your backup on the good side of this scale.
Review what actually needs to be copied – It’s a safe bet and dead easy to grab the top-most folder and attempt to backup everything within it but this often results in errors being generated due to a myriad of technical reasons. So it’s best to hand-pick what you actually need to backup.
Monitor backup logs on a weekly basis – The ‘Set it and forget it’ approach to backup automation has been its Achilles heel since inception. Most revelations of failed backups present themselves when a file or entire folder needs to be recovered. Regular monitoring of backup logs are an essential aspect of managing your backups. Good backup software has the ability to email backup activity on a regular basis so there’s really no excuses!
Test recover-ability – The proof is in the pudding, so having backups that aren’t checked for recover-ability is pretty pointless. On a regular basis attempt to recover at least a single file selected at random and be sure to use the file to ensure it behaves as expected.
Keep the backup vault safe – If you’re working with on-site backup solutions like an external hard disk or tape be sure to have them stored securely. If using a cloud vault be sure to keep abreast of any security updates that need to be applied to the sync client. In either case the vault contains that hand-picked treasured data!
What are your requirements? – An often overlooked aspect of backup management is the retention period. Legal requirements mandate data is held for specific periods so its important to ensure you’re adhering to your legal obligations by reflecting these requirements in your strategy.
Keep it simple – Complexity is a natural consequence of anything technology and backups are no exception. Simplifying your backup strategy takes effort and thought but it will be well worth your while when you need to recovery a file.
Use a mix of on-site and cloud storage vaults – Having multiple backup vaults working in tandem requires more vigilant management but is popular choice for extending basic backup facilities into a disaster recovery plan. Choose your providers carefully and be sure that the backup software supports your requirements.
Endorse the cloud – Cloud vaults have been a point of contention for a long time. With affordable high speed internet and a range of reputable providers, cloud vaults deliver secure vaults with a myriad of features such as the ability to store several versions of a single file, long term recover-ability and global accessibility.
Granularity considerations – Having a backup of an entire virtual image can be a good thing if the entire system failed and needs to be brought back to life really quick. However if all you’re after is a single file then restoring a virtual image is a absolute no no. A good backup strategy should include the ability to restore a single file as efficiently as it would be to restore an entire system. Be sure you’re ready for either scenario. As with all things technology – it’s not a question of if but when!
Divide and rule – It’s pointless taking daily backups of data that never changes. It slows down the process, take’s up valuable space and unnecessarily complicates a recovery. Best practice suggests that selected data is archived and removed from the backup path.