Some believe that backups are a routine that should be set and forgotten about. Similarly, such individuals also believe that ransomware attacks, downtime caused by hardware failures, as well as human mistakes that lead to data loss are things that happen to people in the news, or topic starters on Reddit  in other words, to someone else.

Such beliefs can cause disasters, loss of data, business opportunities as backups may fail and recovery may be slow.

To avoid all that, you need to create a comprehensive plan of how you test your backups. More so, our guide will help you to build a robust action plan to make sure that your backed-up data is recoverable.

Create a List for Your Backups

Notably, document backup routines, even if system administrator already knows them, for two main reasons: security and maintain backups.

      • Lack of knowledge about backup infrastructure causes disaster downtime as the person with direct knowledge may be absent or leave.

      • Even more, the best professionals may mix up or forget specific technical details once things have gotten out of control and the situation is stressful.

    So, you should create a list that includes all running backups, their types, retention settings, and the hardware that you need for the backup or recovery processes. More so, don’t forget to include your recovery time and recovery point calculations. More so, this will help you to test your backups later and evaluate whether your backup plans are sufficient.

    Backup and Recovery Tests

    Backup and recovery processes require testing to ensure data safety and data recovery from storage.

    Test Your Backups 

    To test your backups, you should create a map of every piece of infrastructure and data that you need to back up. Here are the basic checks that you should perform regularly:

        • Check your backup infrastructure. If you have a local backup infrastructure, check the health of your SMART(Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) drives and your NAS(Network Access Storage) devices. If you back up to the cloud, check that all files are consistent in the storage.

        • Check the consistency of your data. Some backup solutions check data consistency for integrity on the machine and in storage.

        • Check that all parts of your infrastructure are well covered. Audit the infrastructure to ensure critical company backups are in place.

        • Check security settings. Have you enabled data encryption in transit and at rest? Do you need to encrypt filenames? Lastly, who has access to your backup storage? As a rule of thumb, you should use the rule of the least minimal privilege for your access policies.

      Recovery Tests

      Here are the most common rules for tests and checks that you should adhere to in order to be sure that you can recover anything, any time:

          • Test recovery time and recovery point estimations to determine recovery speed and data loss tolerance. Defining these parameters:
                • RTO (the Recovery Time Objective), is a metric for restoring IT infrastructure after disasters to ensure business continuity.

                • RPO, or Recovery Point Objective, is a measure of the maximum tolerable amount of data that the business can afford to lose during a disaster.

            • Define the scope of your tests. You should break down your recovery testing from the simplest to the most demanding, and make sure that you regularly test each of these, including single file recovery, single machine or server (including and excluding the infrastructure), recovery tests of the interconnected parts of your network and infrastructure; and lastly, test disaster recovery in various scenarios.

              • Define the schedule for your tests. Regularly schedule tests to catch infrastructure changes and avoid affecting business operations by scheduling them outside of business hours.

              • Document everything. Document tests, schedule, scope, results, estimations, authorized personnel, and team members for effective communication and reporting.

            Backup and recovery tests are not mere routine and dull exercises. Although they do not sound like the most enjoyable activities for the IT professional, they are designed to make sure that you can bring back every piece of your infrastructure/data center in the event of any disaster, human fault, or failure. And if you take a look at your interconnected, partly on-prem and partly cloud-based, complex infrastructure and network, you will immediately observe how fragile all this complexity is Backup: What are the Challenges and How to Solve Them.

            Create a great testing environment and make sure that you have covered everything that is vital to your business, thus ensuring you a good night’s sleep. We are here to help you get “good night’s sleep” or “enjoy your time off/holiday”, Talk to Us

            Additional Resources

            10 Step Guide to Testing Your Backups