When it comes to a backup and recovery software solution, we all want the “all-inclusive”, “fully-automated”, “lights-out”, “set-it and forget-it”, “heterogeneous” software that makes our life easy, right? But after all the word buzzing has passed and the backup software has been implemented, we still will need to “do-our-job”. Something that every seasoned professional understands is that if we don’t do our due-diligence daily, we are bound to fail because; inevitably, something will interfere with our backup operations and cause our jobs to fail.
Ever had one of those mornings where half, or all, of your backup jobs failed because someone forgot to change a tape or, there were no scratch tapes available in the library? How about when there was a hardware failure on the tape device, or there was a network outage, power outage, software patch/update… You get the point. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot but, very few incidents make me cringe the way I do when someone needs data restored and, there’s no data to restore. This can happen for a variety of reasons.
A few reasons why restores might fail include:
- The data was never backed-up. I’ve seen this play out in real life. An I.T. Admin, not to be named, configured his backup environment in a set-and-forget configuration. However, none of his backup jobs ever completed successfully. Backup companies should help with setup of initial backup jobs, and most will offer professional services to test your data recovery environment for a nominal fee.
- The data was never backed up. Another real-life scenario where someone forgot to change the tape, and/or tape rotation was not correct, and/or all the tapes in the library were full and no scratch tapes were available. As simple as it is to change a tape every day, human error or, neglect can inhibit your ability to restore data. It is never a bad idea to rely on the robotics of a library. They are well worth the money and, extremely reliable.
- The data was never backed-up. There was a failed VSS writer and it prevented the backup job from backing-up the data. Although your backups may succeed during the proof-of-concept phase of testing, you need to check the status of production backup jobs. It is not uncommon for other maintenance tasks to run a night during the backup window. Some of these jobs may leverage the Volume Shadow Copy Service at the same time as the backup service and cause a conflict.
As a Sys Admin you need to be vigilant because if there is a failure to restore data, it’s going to be your fault and; you better have a good explanation. My purpose in pointing this out is that, no matter how “bullet-proof” the solution, data protection is not autonomous practice. Someone needs to own the backup responsibility for your environment the way that your company owns the license. Pursuing the responsibility of properly managed backup environment will minimize the opportunity for failures, will improve business continuity and, will ensure data recovery.
To prevent moments that any Sys Admin would regret, there are some fundamental practices that you should employ regarding the protection of critical data:
- First, check your backup jobs every morning. Most backup software packages include the ability to configure automatic report generation with email delivery capability. This will help you to quickly identify failed backup jobs. The report can be as simple as showing successful and failed backup jobs so that you know what jobs need attention.
- Second, if backup jobs fail, re-run them immediately if possible; otherwise log the event and make sure your others are aware of the event.
- Third, test the restore of data. You need to perform test restores of data to ensure that you’re getting good backups and, that you can restore that data if necessary. These three basic steps can ensure that your backup environment is truly “bullet-proof”.
By spending a moment every day to ensure that your backup operations are successful, you will avoid the unnecessary pain that can occur by neglecting the little things that make the biggest difference.
Learn how to build a better backup strategy, download NovaStor’s free Backup Strategy Guide today.
Written by Michael Pirro.
Michael is an Enterprise Support Engineer serving NovaStor’s DataCenter and xSP communities. Learn more about NovaStor’s network backup software.