backup testing
Just about every Hawaii business has a backup solution—but do you know if it’s working? Unfortunately, many businesses neglect one of the key aspects of data backup: testing.  With ransomware attacks on the rise, backup testing is especially important. If you get hit by an attack, a proper backup might be your very last line of defense to recover your organization’s data.  When disaster strikes, it’s critical to recover your data quickly. To make sure you can do that, you will need to not only perform data backups, but also test that they work. Here’s a complete guide to testing your data backups and what to do if you need additional assistance.

1. Understand Your Backup Solution

There are several backup solutions for your data.  Many businesses have onsite or offsite servers where they store data and have a backup program managing their automated backups. Others store their data in private or public clouds hosted by third-parties. Most companies choose automated backups over manual backups. No matter what your backup solution, it’s important to test it to ensure your critical data will always be accessible.

2. Test Your Backups

There are various steps you can follow to test your backup solution yourself. Here are some tips:
  1. Confirm that any backup software you’re using is installed and licensed on the devices you’re testing.
  2. Run a verification of your existing backups regularly.
  3. Ensure all critical files are included in your backups.
  4. Perform a spot check by restoring individual files.  
  5. Perform a full-system restore test at least yearly.*
Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind when testing your backups:
  • You should prepare for compatibility issues by testing backups on multiple systems (for example, an older version of a server versus a newer model).
  • Once you determine a viable backup plan, document them so you can turn to those instructions when it’s time to perform tests again.
*If you’re performing a full-system restore manually, you’ll want to do so on a spare computer dedicated for testing in case any issues arise during the backup. Alternatively, you can use virtual machines technology for test restores, such as Windows Hypervisor or VmWare. 

4. Create a Backup Testing Schedule

As mentioned, a full-system restore should be tested at least once a year. Static workloads should also be tested yearly. Mission critical data should be tested much more frequently, usually quarterly, since it is essential data.  Make a note of the tests you do and when. Know how long it takes to restore all your data. This will allow you to tailor your disaster recovery plan accordingly.

4. Inspect What You Expect

One important step of backup testing is to inspect what you expect, which means to carefully evaluate test results and determine whether there are any unexpected issues. If you are not performing the tests yourself but are responsible for them, make sure you receive and review reports. If the results aren’t as expected, ask for clarification and insist on remediation. You’ll want to make sure that you document the results of your backup and disaster recovery tests as well, otherwise what you learn during those tests won’t be much help.

5. Update Your Disaster Recovery Plan

If disaster strikes, you need to know how to go through each necessary step to restore all your files. These steps are part of backup and disaster recovery planning Your disaster recovery plan should include aspects such as:
  • Who on your staff will lead out the execution of your plan should a disaster hit
  • What risks your business faces and the level of those risks
  • A step-by-step guide, in order, of what recovery functions to employ
  • Clear instructions for what each department should do to protect against data loss
  • Off-site procedures, if applicable
It’s a good idea to have a printed copy of this plan available to everyone on your staff. It’s also important to perform regular simulations to test your disaster recovery plan and see how it can be regularly improved. 

Need More Help?

An emergency can majorly disrupt your business if you’re not prepared, not to mention it can be extremely costly. Making sure your data backups are reliable is a key step in protecting your business from data loss. These tips can be helpful, but they can also be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. That’s okay! At Busch Consulting, we manage your data backups from start to finish—including testing, simulations, and disaster recovery planning—so you don’t have to stress about it. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free 15-minute virtual consultation. Check out our IT Tips for Hawaii Businesses blog for more tips on how to optimize your IT with do-it-yourself solutions.