Being aware of potential threats within a backup environment is always the first step in getting your infrastructure prepared for a disaster. Today I’d like to outline a few of the possible threats and what options you have in order to keep your companies business critical data as safe as possible.
What can I do to minimize data loss?
The two main reasons for data loss are the user themselves and the system the user is working with. Within these two generic topics you can find tons of sub issues. The backup storage is full, the backup server hardware is unstable and shuts off several times a month, or just that no one saw it coming. In order to improve the stability of your backup environment you could implement several mechanisms.
If your backup software protects more than a handful servers, a second (or more) backup server is able to absorb a system failure from the main one. Depending on your network, it also enables a more efficient routing of the backups. In addition to a failover backup server, implementing a 2nd media pool helps keep the backup flow continuous. In the case that the main storage fails or is just full, the backup software can still continue and finish its backup job.
A distributed architecture utilizing redundant metadata also helps by allowing jobs to complete even if the backup server dies during the process of the backup job running. The result is the same as having a second backup of your data. Having the option to restore the client, the backup server, and the backup data database makes the System Administrator’s sleep much more peaceful. Plus, of course, having several copies of the backup data in house and at a remote location.
Emails are annoying. But if one of those could let you know immediately that something is wrong, wouldn’t you love those innocent little emails again? Unfortunately one email report won’t be enough. As your jobs a running on a regular basis, the usual status updates are useful. But to be absolutely sure, you should get one every day, no matter if the backup job was successful or not. That prevents you from not getting any information, because your mail service is down. Depending on the amount of clients you are backing up, this email could also be sent twice a day or even hourly.
Knowing the time the entire IT environment and even single machines are allowed to be offline without risking the future of the company is essential. Having an overview (written down) about critical machines and adapting the backup jobs and restore tests accordingly could literally safe your company’s life. Try not to treat every machine similar. Make sure that important data is protected with a higher interval of backup jobs. Setup your backup system and your entire IT environment in a way that it allows you to correlate how important the data is to the restore requirements of the data.
We all know that business owners are quite conservative when it comes to IT budgets. Sometimes a simple calculation can make it very clear how important backup really is. To give you an idea on how you could convince your boss, here is a simple calculation (not based on actual numbers):
Let’s assume the revenue of your company’s web shop is $200,000 per month. The average month has 20 working days and your sales team is working an average of 10 hours per working day. That means (roughly said) every hour is worth $1,000. Thinking the other way round that means a server downtime of 2-3 days would cost your company approx. $20,000 – $30,000 in revenue loss. If your network improvements would reduce the downtime to just let’s say 4 hours, you would reduce the revenue loss by 500% – 750%!
Plus a shorter downtime also reduces the risk of potential buyers making their purchase with the competition.
But how do I prevent Backup and Restore Disasters at all?
At the end there is no recipe for a 100% disaster proof solution. You have to assume a disaster will happen of some sort no matter how much you plan against it. You need to design your DR plan so it minimizes the downtime within the required RTO’s and RPO’s. In addition to the plan itself you need to test your restores.
Check our Blog Article ‘Best Practices for your Backup Strategy” to learn more about RTO’s, RPO’s, and how to be prepared in case of data loss.