Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Check Your Backups!

When your business depends on computers, you use them to store data. That data (information, documents, emails, pictures, etc) belongs to you, and losing it would be disastrous. If you have a server environment, you also need to protect the network structure, which complicates your backup and recovery plans. In most cases, copying files is not enough - so you run some special software.

The only way to make sure that your data is protected is to take ownership over the backups. Believing that the backups are running without your direct involvement is short of delusional. If you are a principal of a business, it is your job to make sure your data is safe. Here are some methods for verifying your backups:

  • ShadowProtect: Most agree it is the best imaging software on the market. It is also extremely easy to use. More important, it has superior restore capabilities, but only if your backup sets are present.

    1. Log-on to your server
    2. Launch ShadowProtect
    3. Click the Backup History Tab
    4. Scroll to the bottom. There should be backups in the last 24 hours with a "COMPLETED" status. Yellow or Red icons are BAD!
    5. Re-check to make sure all volumes (C:\, and/or D:\, and/or E:\ etc have a log entry).

      Every WEEK you should perform a manual backup you will take off-site using a Scheduled/Manual jobs that should be pre-configured:

    6. Log-on to the server
    7. Pause the Scheduled Job
    8. Execute the MANUAL job to a different destination.
    9. Verify it completes
    10. Un-Pause the Scheduled Job.

  • Windows Small Business Server Backup: the free option. You get what you pay for. In this case, restoring data - in a disaster - can be cumbersome. Exchange Server restores are additionally complex. Regardless, it is still a backup.

    1. Log-on to server
    2. Open Server Manager or the Windows SBS Console
    3. Click on Backup
    4. View Backup History. You have two choices, SUCCESS or FAILED. FAILED is BAD.

  • Lastly, it is not enough to just look at the logs. Proper backup procedures involve RESTORING files to verify everything works. Monthly, or quarterly, you should restore a file from your backup. You can do this by yourself or with your IT on the phone, but get it done.

In the end, backups are not self-maintaining. You can pay for these services, but ultimately your best bet is to spend 1 hour of your time learning about them and a few minutes a month making sure they work. Computers, servers, storage systems, etc... ultimately fail: it is never a question of "if", but rather "when". Do not put it off, do not delegate it out, take ownership of it - after all, this is your business.