The importance of testing disaster recovery (Windows Server Backup, Backup Exec, etc)

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As technology professionals, I would argue that this is one of the most important jobs we have.

As you know, my company provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. Part of our responsibility to many of our clients is ensuring that backups are taking place. But this responsibility doesn’t just end at ensuring that backups are running. We also need to test those backups and see if they work. Whether we’re using Windows Server Backup, Symantec’s Backup Exec, BackupAssist or Acronis, we need to make sure those backups are actually usable.

I have to say, I have not met many technologists that actually tested their disaster recovery plans. I’ve seen networks where backups have been spitting out left, right and center for years, yet no one has actually taken the time to prove that those backups actually work. This is one of the poorest practices I’ve seen in network and system administration. It rates right up there with not having a network diagram and not having any equipment labeled.

Taking a backup is not enough. If that backup is useless to restore from, then you might as well have no backup at all. It’s the same thing after all, with the same end result: data loss. You need to take your backups into a test environment and see if you can actually fully recover your data from them. You don’t need to do this every week, but depending on your backup routine and how much data and how often it changes, you most likely need to do this every few weeks or months.

Remember, your job is not only to ensure that backups are running, but also to ensure that they actually can restore data should anything catastrophic occur.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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