When Was the Last Time You Tested Your Backup?
If you are backing up your data regularly, you are on track with your data protection, but that is not enough. You are also doing well if you are ensuring that your backups are safe, but you need to do more than that.
What is the use of all these efforts if you cannot retrieve the data when you need it? That may come as a shock to you, but it happens often. Most organizations are quick to back up and secure their backups, but they hardly test the backups and data recovery.
If you fail to test your backup and data recovery (DR) regularly, you have no assurance that it is still there and that you can recover it if you lose the data in your systems. Maybe you are not sure of why you may need the backup data. Let us briefly delve into that.
Why You Need to Backup
Protection against Physical Disasters
You may lose your data in times of disasters like floods, earth tremors, and tornados. You may also lose it through lost devices such as laptops and external drives. In addition, your system hardware may malfunction, leaving you unable to access your data.
Hackers and Viruses
Old school techniques like spyware, viruses, and dangerous malware are still causing massive data losses and system breaches. The threat to your data and systems is now even higher with the recent explosion of cybercrimes and malware.
Recent trends indicate that no organization is 100% safe from cyberattacks. You will experience it one time or the other. That should tell you that you need reliable data recovery mechanisms to shield you from complete data loss or prolonged downtimes.
You can only be sure that you have data you can restore by carrying out frequent backup and recovery drills. Let us explore the things you should bear in mind when carrying out your backup testing and data recovery simulations.
What Should You Test?
Test if you can recover your folders, files and volumes. Test if you can recover all the data in case of a total system failure. Sometimes you may take longer to restore your IT systems if they fail.
Test if you can recover parts of the data you may need to use as you await the systems to be restored. In addition, test if your IT team can recover your data stored in the cloud, in software-as-a-service (SaaS), and those held offsite.
Frequency of Testing
How often you will test your backup and data recovery will depend on the sensitivity of the data and how much risk you are willing to take. If the data is sensitive and important, weekly testing would be appropriate. Monthly testing would be ideal for less sensitive data.
Some organizations carry out annual testing and data recovery drills, but that may not be enough. A lot of interference may happen within the year. You should also do a test and DR every time you have a system upgrade or change.
Ability to Recover the Data
Once you are sure your physical systems can restore your data, the next thing is to test if the data you have recovered is not corrupted. Test if you can recover large volumes of data under Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) conditions.
Testing will reveal if you meet regulatory requirements on data backup and recovery. It will show if you meet your recovery time objectives (RTO) which indicate fast you need to restore your systems. Testing will also show you recovery point objectives (RPO), showing how much data you can lose without affecting your operations.
The Effectiveness and Accuracy of the Data Recovery
Your testing and DR should go beyond telling you that you can recover your data. It should show if the data is recovered in the appropriate systems and that the recovered data is not interfered with in the recovery process.
Subject matter specialists from your organization should scrutinize the recovered data for accuracy and see if it is in the correct order. Mixing up the data may compromise its quality and accuracy.
When testing data recovery from offsite backups, check if your systems are protected from ransomware. This would be a perfect time to update your cybersecurity features to secure the data when carrying out a backup and DR drill.
Consistency of Recovery
When you do a backup and DR drill, you will know if the recovery is consistent across all departments. It will tell you if there is a department that is not effectively backing up its data. In addition, you will know if you can recover data from all your backup sites and devices consistently.
Expect the backup and DR drill to disrupt operations. Make it correspond with the time when your systems are not busy or on your off days.
Also, it should be a worthy investment from which you can draw lessons to inform future backup and recovery decisions. Record the findings and act on them to improve your data backup and recovery.
Your Backup and DR Team
The success of your backup and DR drill will depend on the team you assemble. You need a blend of insiders and outsourced IT service providers like Palindrome Consulting. The outsourced IT team will evaluate how well your employees are following your backup policy and test the efficiency of your backup systems.
They may have more knowledge on data backup and recovery solutions since they are likely to be offering their services to many firms that give them wider exposure than an in-house team can have. On the other hand, the in-house team should help in evaluating the data accuracy and consistency. They may include a business continuity expert, a business unit advisor, and a disaster management coordinator.
Palindrome Consulting is your go-to IT consultant for businesses in South Florida. We specialize in helping businesses reap full benefits from their IT investments to get a competitive edge and achieve greater success.
Get in touch with us for a tailored IT solution that will align with your business projections and policies. We are available for on-site consultation where we visit your premises to discuss your IT needs. Call us or reach out to us on our website for a free quote.