So you have a backup plan in place. But do you know what that plan is? What type of backups are running? Where are the backups saved? When was the last time you tried restoring anything from a backup to make sure your files are accessible and valid?
Many times, a backup plan is put in place but as time passes, it is forgotten. At some point in time, external hard drives fill up and backups stop, but no warnings are sent (or received) to indicate a problem. Perhaps new folders are added on your server and they are not automatically added to an existing backup, but no one bothered to check that the new folders were included.
A solid backup plan would include a backup plan that is understandable to those responsible, not just your IT consultant; one that can easily be tested; includes notification of successful backups, as well as errors and warnings; and that is tested periodically.
Number of Backups
One of the most important aspects of a backup plan should include two backup locations: one on-site and the other an off-site copy of your data. On-site backups make a copy of the data on your PC or server and store it on a separate device, but in the same physical location. This strategy is good for protecting from a hard drive crash or accidental file deletion. The file can be recovered quickly and easily from the local backup device.
The off-site backup, as the name suggests, keeps a copy of your data in a separate physical location, usually at a secure data center facility with encryption, power back-up, and high physical security. The off-site backup provides, first, a second copy of your data in case the on-site copy should encounter a problem, and secondly, protection for any sort of catastrophe that may occur in your physical location such as fires, floods, tornadoes, and other significant events.
Frequency of Backups
Often, backups are only run once per day, usually overnight to minimize impact on the server. With the amount of data that changes in a short time, some businesses require more frequent backups. Backups can be scheduled to run every few hours to catch everything that has changed since the previous backup. Some backup software will even operate in a continuous backup mode, capturing data almost as it changes and provides many points in time to recover data.
Testing Your Backups
Once your backup plan is in place and working, you should periodically test it by restoring some files and folders to make sure the data is recoverable. This gives a level of comfort: when you actually need to recover data, you know the system has been tested and should work when you need it.
You should also test the remote backup as well to make sure that off-site backups can easily be recovered to an alternate location in the event your office and local servers are not available. Off-site backups can provide continuity of service in the event of a major disruption to your physical location.
Backups are a critical component of your IT infrastructure and should not be left to chance. Active alerts for every backup should be configured, regular testing of backups should be performed by a scheduled restore, and confirmation of backup selections should be done. These are important things to make sure are elements are functioning correctly.