Discovering your bad backup practices

One of my favourite movies is the Toy Story. I am sure you’ve heard of the legend of how three key strokes resulted in the deletion of Toy Story 2 (see the video below). It may sound like it happens to everyone, but it does happen – the deletion of files or records and the panic that follows.


Previously, we listed out common bad backup practices that persist both at enterprises and among SMBs. This time around we look at ways to recover from a bad backup strategy as well as determining if your organisation has, indeed, a bad backup practice in place.
Veeam’s Raymond Goh suggests taking a three-step approach starting with an analysis of the business nature of the organisation and determining an appropriate measurement benchmark.
For example, Recovery Time and Point Objectives (RTPO) can be used to determine and maintain the business Service Level Agreement (SLA) for your users. If your RTPO does not meet the required SLA, there is an Availability Gap between your customers’ demands and your provision of services, meaning, your backup strategy needs improvement and measures have to be taken to bridge this gap. Good RTPO should be measured in minutes (not hours or days).
Secondly, keep in mind the element of availability of your services when you test your backup strategy. This means going beyond successful recovery of data to also ensure that applications are operational at a level whereby service is fully resumed (not just data recovery) for users.
In conclusion, leverage your backup data to provide verification of your backup strategy regularly, involving key users performing their tests in a production-like environment. One way of doing this is to create an isolated environment from your latest backup data, and allowing users access into this isolated environment (zero impact to your production environment) to determine success criteria for the testing performed. This will help achieve multiple benefits with your backup administrator fully aware and 100% confident about the exact recovery procedures. In addition, your users are able to perform complete verification right at their “door step” (desktop).
EMC’s PK Gupta believes that creating an automated backup strategy is important. Given the continuing decline in the cost of disks, he also believes that moving from tape-based strategy to disk-based backups can mitigate the risks of bad backups occurring in the future.
“Finally through the use of data management tools in place for monitoring, alerting, capacity planning and troubleshooting, an effective backup strategy can help reduce costs for data storage, manpower, media servers, tape management, power, cooling, space and bandwidth,” he adds.
Arshad Munir Sharif, IBM Malaysia’s General Manager for System & Technology Group , suggests that organisations should evaluate their backup policy and bear in mind the recovery requirements in case of data loss. An assessment of the service level requirements to the business should be the starting point for designing and implementing a backup strategy.
Commvault’s Mark Bentkower says developing and implementing the right data retention policy is therefore, a necessity for both internal data governance and legal compliance. Yet, not all data can or should be treated the same way. Some organisations’ data need to be retained for many years, whereas there may be data that are required for just a few days; and some others may not need to be stored at all. Therefore, when setting up processes, it is important to identify the organization's most valuable data and prioritize storage management resources appropriately.
Gupta lists three Ps that organizations must bear in mind when evaluating the importance of backup (or lack of it): What are the possibilities of losing data?  What's the probability of each possibility?  What is the penalty of losing the data in each scenario?
Steps leading up to proper disaster recovery begin with backup. Investments can be as low as free for those with very minimal requirements. Yes they escalate up the scale of expensive solutions as you climb up the ladder of complexity.
As we said before, backup programs are your insurance against a disaster. Whether you like it or not, these will happen. The sooner you prepare for one, the more likely you will survive it unscathed for the most part. The choice is yours.

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