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Friday, July 07, 2006

The Importance of Testing Data Backups

Most small business owners don’t do computer data backups often enough. Unfortunately, not paying attention to computer data backups can be devastating. You should of course be attached to a local and reliable computer service company that can help give you advice on the right types of computer data backups, and of course help you in case of an emergency. But unless you have the money and wherewithal to hire a full-time support employee, you will need to have a basic knowledge of major issues surrounding computer data backups.


1. Test computer backups regularly and always carefully examine log files. Computer data backups have to be automated so you can be sure the associated jobs are being done regularly and properly. This does not mean you don’t still need to watch your computer data backup system. Monitoring a computer data backup system is not usually important until something goes horribly wrong. Test now, or it may be too late in the future! Many people believe they can create an automated computer data backup system and then not think about it again. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, and there should be someone, or favorably multiple people overseeing the computer data backups on a daily basis.

2. Don’t just test … retest. Any newly installed computer data backup system needs to be watched, particularly in the beginning. You should do regular restores of folders and files from your backup media so you can test to see if the system is still working. If you have an automated computer data backup routine in place and one that includes a verify run, testing a sample restore job on a monthly basis should be enough. For extra risk protection, check once a week.

3. Moving parts and open design make for extra hazards so you need to take extra caution with making sure you have a working computer data backup plan in place. The more moving parts, the more prone to mechanical failure the system will be.

4. Clean the tape heads of computer data backup systems when you do your restores. Restoring a few hundred MB of data shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to half an hour, so always restore the data to a separate server folder path so you don’t disturb any use of shared folders and create unnecessary downtime.

5. Build a system backup and restore procedure checklist. When you hit an emergency, you need to get data back quickly and undamaged. When building your computer data backup system, put your test procedures in the form of a checklist. This list will help with training and avoid panic. Keep a hard copy of the checklist next to your system and one stored offsite.

6. Watch log files carefully. Run test restore jobs, but also inspect the computer data backup log files daily. Get familiar with this system when it is first installed and know why and how everything works. As your network operating system gets more complicated, it becomes more possible to monitor backup log files both locally and remotely, so you have no excuse not to do it.

7. Your backup log files can be monitored both automatically and remotely, and now this process is not just important for computer consulting businesses. Many computer consulting companies will have their client log files e-mailed to them daily so they can monitor problems with computer data backups easily. If your computer consulting firm is doing this and you are a small business, you still need to take an active role in monitoring your backups as well.

Blogged By: Computer Consulting 101