6 Ways to Achieve Comfort with Your Backups

From consumers to large enterprise, everyone knows they need to back up their data in case something goes wrong.

As a consumer you don’t want to risk losing data in a computer crash. On top of concerns about data loss, businesses have legal, compliance and risk reasons to maintain good backups.

Recent ransomware attacks like Petya and WannaCry caught major brand companies off-guard, exposing weaknesses in their security, back-up, disaster recovery and business continuity regimes.

Sometimes it seems to take an incident – and therefore a need to try and restore from backup – for businesses to take backup seriously. You can bet those caught out trying to recover from ransomware this time won’t be caught out twice.

Still, most businesses would prefer not to be caught out at all. My team at NTT makes that possible by managing the risk for our customers.

Here are the six things I’ve learned about being comfortable with your backup quality from my work at NTT – and more broadly, my 14 years spent focused on backup and recovery.

  1. Use only the best backup software 

    There’s really only a few truly enterprise-level backup products in the market. At NTT, we use the Commvault data protection suite to power our Backup as a Service offering. Commvault’s been a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Protection for the past seven years.

  2. Test your backups

    There’s an industry saying that every backup is essentially Schrodinger’s backup until you try to restore from it. In my experience, whilst companies do backups they rarely or never schedule regular tests or dry runs to restore from them. It’s common to see weekend dry runs for business continuity plans, but backups – to disk, tape or cloud - are taken and left there. My advice? Pick a critical system – Exchange, accounting, whatever – and conduct a different restoration test every quarter so you can be sure that they are in working order.

  3. Use your backups

    If you really want to feel happy about the quality of your backups, make it your mission to actually use them. The smartest businesses are constantly testing the fidelity of their backup data. Using them isn’t just about restoring in the event of an incident; backups can also be used to seed dev/test environments with a copy or subset of production data. If you never use your backups, feeling good about them is going to be fairly difficult.

  4. Have processes and document them

    In a past life as a consultant, I’d constantly visit client sites with almost no back-up and disaster recovery documentation of their processes. I find that unless you’re forced to create those processes, whether to gain certification or you actually go through an issue and have to use them in anger, then those processes won’t exist. Alternatively, if they do exist they’re often undocumented or were documented five years ago and haven’t been looked at since. Draw up processes, document them and keep the documents updated. You’ll be thankful you did when you need them.

  5. Scale up your strategy

    A lot of people have the same backup strategy over many years. They grow as a business but the backup design and strategy doesn’t scale or evolve with that growth. Backup has to be considered an essential part of capacity planning. It needs to grow with your business to stay current and fit-for-purpose. It needs to be capable of helping you recover now, not just at the point in time when the strategy were drawn up.

  6. Let someone else manage it

    Backup done right can be resource-intensive – but also life-saving. If you don’t have the internal skillset, look to a managed backup service. Our Backup as a Service covers all your storage infrastructure, backup software and fidelity, testing and on-call support. If you’re currently in our Global Switch Sydney or Melbourne NEXTDC M1 data centres, we have a colocation + backup promotion bundle going on here.

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William Rusin
Author Name: William Rusin

William Rusin has been NTT ICT’s Managed Backups Team Manager since 2015. Will has over a decade’s technical experience in the IT industry, specialising in enterprise level data management including backup and restore, archiving, disaster recovery and business continuity.

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Added 22 August 2017

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