When Was the Last Time You Tested Your Backup Systems?
Computing technologies play a crucial role in business today, and among them are backup and recovery technologies. Most firms know that they need to back up their data. Without backup, they risk losing crucial data in the event of a disaster. If a company can’t restore its systems rapidly enough in the face of a natural disaster or cyberattack, it risks losing sales, clients, and profits.
Another reason to have a backup system is the increase in regulations. Governments throughout the world have put in place new requirements on stored data and electronic communications. Non-compliance can lead to dire consequences, and loss of crucial data can come across as a violation of these regulations.
However, having a backup system is not good enough. There’s a need to test the backups to establish their efficiency in restoring crucial data when you need it. When your backups systems are working as they should, they help in:
- Protecting you against natural or artificial disasters, including internal and external attacks
- Ensuring compliance with financial, tax, and other industry standards
- Reducing downtime in the event of an attack
- Preserving your relationship with clients
- Improving productivity
- Establishing credibility with investors, employees, and customers
Importance of Testing Your Backup Systems
A research study done by the University of Texas revealed that 94% of companies that suffer a disaster that leads to data loss don’t survive. 43% of those that survive never reopen, while another 51% close within two years. Much of this happens because business leaders assume that their files are automatically backed to a server or the cloud.
However, the variation in the backup protocols that companies follow plays a role in determining how effective the backup is. Some businesses have a sporadic backup schedule, while others don’t adequately segregate this section from other IT assets. In other situations, some companies don’t have proper security applications to help them pass on compromised data to their backup solutions.
Identify Gaps or Loopholes in the Systems
Periodic testing of backups plays a crucial role in helping you identify loopholes and failures in the system. If you don’t notice these issues soon enough, you’ll soon be dealing with backup failures week after week. It’s worth noting that most backup issues don’t generate error messages yet can hurt the integrity and validity of your data. Regular testing is crucial for an effective IT strategy
For example, there may be some misconfiguration in your backup software that makes it preserve only the data and not the applications. If your overloaded IT team doesn’t see any error messages, they will assume everything is running smoothly. However, when you pair regular testing with end-user checks of backup data, you identify data errors that are not apparent in the first instance.
Testing Serves as a Mock Recovery Process
Additionally, testing helps you establish:
- How long the systems take to recover and restore data, which influences your downtime
- Any errors or issues that may arise in the recovery process
- The steps you and your team need to take to resolve those problems.
Backup testing also lets you verify that the necessary data is available for recovery. During testing, you and your team become more conversant with implementing the recovery process after a data loss. If the test fails, you will be in the best position to take the necessary steps to prevent you from losing valuable information. Without regular testing, you’re probably just wasting money on storage and backup services that are of no use. You don’t want to find this out when it’s too late.
Keep Track of Software and Hardware Changes
Regular testing of your backup systems helps in monitoring and tracking any changes on the hardware and software. Any difference, regardless of how slight it is, can have a significant impact on data backups. As you do the testing, you may also discover that some employees store data in places where backing it up is impossible. You can correct this error and intervene to prevent that data from getting lost.
How Often Should Your Schedule Backup Testing?
It helps to test your backups regularly and to check that they are working as effectively as they should. Your IT team or company in charge of your IT functions should conduct backup and recovery tests according to your schedule and comfort level. It’s also crucial that they document and show proof of the testing.
Factors to consider when scheduling backup testing include:
- How much data you have to deal with: the more data you have on your systems, the more critical it is to test your systems more often.
- How much data you can afford to lose: critically evaluate how your business operates and how reliant it is on daily data input. If you realize that you can’t afford to lose access to vital data, you may need to check your systems more often. Work with an IT company that can effectively test the systems for a comprehensive report.
- How comfortable you are with the data backup solution in place: if the software you use has worked for years without hitches, you may not need regular testing. However, always ensure that the software stays up to date to avoid surprises.
At least once a year, have the IT team simulate a complete data failure or loss. This means taking all your primary systems out of the network connections and booting them up entirely from the backups. As you do this, you will discover how much data your business would retain and what you stand to lose if an emergency occurs.
Regular testing of your data backup systems is crucial for your company’s data security. It helps you identify existing loopholes that may not be so apparent. Keep in mind that data backup is vital for compliance, and you don’t want t find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
If you are not conducting regular testing on your backups, you are failing. It could be that you don’t have well-designed solutions or a knowledgeable team to help you in this quest. Don’t suffer in silence yet experts from Essential Solutions are here to help. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your backup systems and other business IT needs.