I have had 100's of discussions about how customers do backups. History tells us that 6 out of 10 businesses will experience some type of data loss or technology disaster. They are very proud of their strategy and often go into a lot of detail. When I ask how often they do test restores on important files, do they have multiple backup locations and if they backups are encrypted at both ends they often get quiet. Here are some of the most common problems we see and some simple solutions.
The goal of backing up files is not to do the backup but being able to successfully restore your most important files and applications if a disaster strikes. If you are backing up only your data it will take a long time to build a new server, install the applications and updates and then load the data. You could be down for a week.
1.Make sure you have a backup of your most recent images. This will include the operating system, applications and data and allow you to restore a recent image if the event of a natural disaster or Ransomware virus. Know your restore point objectives (RPO) and restore time objectives (RTO) under your current plan and check with management to make sure they are acceptable.
2. Plan for data growth and expansion. There is nothing worse than having to go to management because you haven't planned for the growth and having to reduce the scale or the number of images you are currently backing up. Or worse, you find out in real time that you have run out of room to complete the backup.
3. Is your company or industry subject to regulation? Obviously that complicates things, but having external guidelines can help cover all the bases and show you where you can exceed your competition.
Keeping in mind that regulations and legislation aren’t usually written by IT pros, don’t assume that just because you’re meeting the letter of the regulations that you’ll be a happy camper in the case of a major disaster event or breach. The only true proof is in fully running actual test scenarios and proving that you can restore data trivially and from bare metal if needed. Just ensure that the test doesn’t turn into an event unto itself; have backups of backups ready the first time you run a test, and as needed after that.
4. Are your backups automated and do you have tools to make sure the backups are completed properly and restored easily? All too often we see human error in manual backups. Also critical files are moved, and the backup is not updated. At the same time, even if backups are automated – you need to manually and randomly check for issues that the automation may not catch, like customer-facing SSL errors, bad file types or naming convention errors, or other issues that humans can see but machines have trouble catching.
5. Do you have a current Disaster Recovery plan that is updated annually – at a minimum? Too often customers have a good backup in place for systems two or three years removed from the present. While threats like servers getting fried in an electrical storm, server room flooding and fire aren’t going away, new hardware systems, altered power lines, cooling, and a host of other changes will affect your existing plans, and everyone’s disaster plan must now include a number of pandemic considerations, ranging from reduced or remote staff up to long-term shutdown and reductions in availability of partners to deliver service.
6. Has your current backup vendor reviewed your environment recently to learn about your business, critical infrastructure and growth projections? Do they offer expert engineers to help with the data recovery in the event of an accident or catastrophic event? Because no two businesses are the same, it’s critical that your backup service provider can see all your mission critical assets are covered, including archival data and outliers like CRM connections and mods, API connectors between your internal systems like invoicing and contract management – and other key pieces that are sometimes outside of the scope of a regular backup. Those little details can be the difference between a trivial event and a long-term business chokepoint.
TSP Pyramid offers a variety of backup and support services. To get started on a practical backup assessment, call your Pyramid account manager today!