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Backup Vs. Recovery Vs. Business Continuity

Having received my education and early experience managing military equipment, subsequently high tech industrial equipment, I’d like to point out when it comes to data protection it is not about how well you backup, it is about how well you recover.

Most businesses can’t afford to spend their valuable time backing up and ensuring their backups work, some businesses think spending more money and believing that their backups will work when required is all they have.

I believe that backup is an important part of the data protection puzzle however It is the backup strategy that makes recovery so hard and unpredictable.

First, you must have something to recover for the recovery effort to work. No data, no recovery.

Second, you must have that data where you need it. If your local backup is broken , and you need to start recovering off-site, this is the wrong time to find out that the data didn’t make it there. A recent example of what I’m talking about is a large cleaning company in our City required a service call to restore a crashed hard drive in their accounting server ,upon arrival I was given the media with the supposed back up on it to everybody’s astonishment the media was blank after disassembly of the server and further investigation I found the cable leading to their backup device was partially unplugged making it appear like the backup had been happening for the last couple years when in fact it hadn’t. I hate to say it but this is where real world testing comes in. The strategy I have used to really test the data recovery plan in big industry and military was to execute the recovery once a month , again not feasible for most small business watching their bottom line.

An effective recovery effort involves knowing how your backup worked locally , daily, hourly.  At “A laptop shoppe” we track all our backups this way, the business continuity solution that we use tests the functionality of the backup by restoring the backup on a daily basis to a virtual server, takes a picture of the startup screen and emails it to me, this is the solution we use for all our customers

Once you know the data is backed up locally you need to also know that the backup is available remotely. This requires knowing how you are going to get your data off-site. This is important for larger area disasters or building disasters such as fire and flood, we recently had a whole city burn down in Alberta, Fort McMurray, the only businesses who recovered from this are those that had an effective off-site storage solution . At A laptop Shoppe our off-site solution mirrors are hourly back up into the cloud and is available immediately for virtualization, an example of this was the situation I managed this week, one of the large law firms in Calgary we manage called with a server failure. I showed up on site at 12 p.m. configured the off-site virtualization and we were up and running in less than 15 minutes, to his astonishment the owner of the law firm was watching me in disbelief as he saw me walking out of the building with his server and his company was fully functional. Further to this story, I returned to my shop fixed the server issue in two hours, returned the server, Switched Off the virtualization and he was running from his server within 10 minutes.

The investment in the data protection process is almost always focused on getting the backups done faster. Attention needs to turn to make sure they are also done reliably and that those backups are positioned at the right location for recovery at the right time. Spending time upfront and then testing the process is critical for the disaster recovery success.

Author:  Mike Chartrand, C.E.T.

Having served in the Military on the F-18 Hornets in West Germany during the Cold War, Mike puts what he learned to good use by helping Small Business with All types of Data Recovery in Calgary at his store located at 3 2280 39 Avenue NE Calgary. If you have any questions he can be reached at 403-274-5190.