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The Short Guide to Backup Testing

Brandon Greene
Posted by Brandon Greene on Apr 28, 2020 12:25:25 PM

testing data

Importance in Testing Backups

Data is the new oil, and definitely one of the most valuable assets for any modern organization. With much of enterprises’ decisions relying on data analytics, it has become vitally essential to ensure that organizational data is secured and protected at all costs.

Creating backups is one of the most reliable data protection strategies. However, the bugging question is; how do you know those backs up that you set on the autopilot are valid? You need to consistently test the backups to avoid the risk of losing the crucial information contained in the reserves.

Importance of a Test Restore

It Ensures That You Know the State of Your Backup History at All Times

There is a mythical story about an administrator who convinced the company he was working for to invest in a backup strategy. After receiving the go-ahead sign, he brought in some tapes and followed a system backup schedule religiously. And since the office was considered a highly risky environment, he took the tapes home and stored them in the vault.

One day, the system crashed, leading to massive data loss. As an expert, the admin was ready to show the management how beneficial it was to have a backup plan. So, he went home and hurriedly brought the tapes in readiness for data recovery, starting with the most recent tapes. To his surprise, all the tapes were empty!

Everybody was confused as they didn’t know how that could be possible. To understand what had happened, some representatives and the admin decided to look into the matter. They were surprised to discover that the vault he was using to store the tapes had a magnetic lock, which might have erased all the data.

Although the story might not even be true, it teaches us the importance of backup testing. If the admin had performed the backup test beforehand, he would have known that the tapes were being erased.

Although most organizations rely on third-party solutions that provide backup testing and verification that will display whether a backup is successful or not, many of these solutions are never 100% perfect. There is no better way to be sure is by testing the backups.

For instance, it was discovered that some enterprises that were performing system protection backup in a low-performing environment were losing their backup histories inadvertently as a result of a rare VSS error. This is a kind of issue that occurs when you backup data with a low-performance network.

What happens is that the low-performance destination makes it really hard for the imaging engine to write on it. In response, the VSS begins deleting some backup history. So, you’ll be able to perform the backup without noticing any error, but in the background, the VSS will be erasing the backup histories.

The point here is that if you don't do backup testing regularly, you'll never realize that some of the backup folders were erased and are missing until your system fails, and you try to restore them.

You Familiarize Yourself with The Specifics of Test Restoration Procedures

While most organizations have backups for their data, not many have actually used them. As such, most of the business doesn’t know which steps to follow when it comes to restoring data from their backups. Backup testing recoveries gives organizations a sneak peek into the data recovery process, ensuring that they are ready when it comes to full restoration for the entire environment.

Testing backups helps you make sure that the recovery steps are documented and ensures that you have everything ready in case you need to recover data. When there is a problem with your data system, you will be under pressure to restore it as soon as possible.

Performing tests regularly not only helps you ensure that backups are functional but also ensures that you can pull it up when required. Recovery testing is also crucial as it provides a wealth of information on how long it will take to recover data and get your systems up and running.

When to Perform Backup Tests

Generally, it would be resourceful if you performed backup and recovery testing every time the system finished to backup a file or folder. However, due to time and resource constraints, it is impossible to perform tests after every backup.

Nevertheless, backup testing procedures need to be done regularly and not only to ensure that the process is up to the task but also to ensure that it can handle more data as the business grows.

How complicated the testing process is will depend on the organization's ability to automate testing. You can schedule tests that run on weekends or in the dead of night to minimize disruption.

In terms of frequency, you can test your backups every week or month. However, make sure you conduct test backups depending on the magnitude of your organizational data.

When to Hire an External Team

Sometimes business don't have the time or additional resources to regularly test their data recovery systems. When this is the case, it is best to source that service from a reputable third-party provider. Advanced Office Products offers these services and many others your business may need to ensure that, if the worst should happen, your valuable data is recoverable fast. 

Topics: Managed Services, IT Services, Disaster Recovery

Brandon Greene

Brandon Greene


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