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Can You Restore Data from Your Backup?

Many users don't test their backups. This is because they don't take the time or they don't know the steps to take. This means that there is a risk that the restoration of their system will not work nor can they be sure that they are able to retrieve individual files.

You should use a backup program which gives you a full report with verification which highlights possible errors when the backup is completed.

If the backup is taken from a server, then the backup administrator should get an email backup error report.

To test the backup, try to recover some of the files from the backup. In case the backup is spanning over several consecutive CD's or DVD's then examine some files by restoring them from the last CD or DVD.

Spanning by the way, is the term used to describe backup that can’t be stored on one CD or DVD but has to be divided and stored on more than one.

Special consideration must be given to open databases. Many data backup products are not able to back up open databases. If that is the case you have to look for special backup solutions.

Tragically many users who don’t test their backups find that data can’t be recreated from their backups despite backups having been made and everything seems to be OK. Media may be bad or the setup parameters are set wrong. This is especially true if the backup is made with NT backup, the standard backup utility included in Windows.

One problem with NT backup is that it is hard to use and it is difficult to set up a backup schedule. There exist other alternatives to choose from. Some are expensive. Often with a multitude of functions. These products are targeted to the high end corporate market and should be avoided by small and medium businesses.

Backup should be easy to do and the instruction easy to understand.

NT Backup doesn't gives good enough information on possible errors. It's easy to make something wrong. If you use a tape backup as your backup media then there are several things you can do to reduce these risks and make the backup safe.

1. Make backup with verification.

Use a backup product which verifies the backup. The verification will take up extra backup time, but it is well worth doing.

2. Media rotation.

Use several media and rotate them according to a set rotation time schedule. There are several different rotation models you can use.

3. Keep the backup at a safe place.

Keep the backup in another building to protect the data from disaster such as fire or flooding. One option is that one employee keeps backups at home. The place used for storage should be fire protected and burglar proof. The location should have a normal stable temperature and should have no humidity or electric fields.

4. Maintain your equipment.

Maintain the CD or DVD drive and keep it free from dust. Make sure that you can get service of the hardware.

5. Keep track of the expiration date.

This is something you need to watch if the CD or DVD are in heavy use. All CD-RW and DVD-RW have a limited life time and will wear out over time. Normally this is when the media has been used over 1000 times.

6. Test the backup at regular intervals.

Test the backup by restoring files as described above. As an alternative you can restore files on to a different server or computer.

 

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