Wednesday, 10 April 2013

When did you last check your backups?

Our Quality Manager Kim and I realised at our last Quality Meeting that we hadn't done a backup/restore rehearsal lately to check that our main office server backups were working as we thought they were.

We have a professional daily backup routine (as you'd expect from an IT business!) and we check the backup logs weekly at least to see that everything is running as we expect.  We even have redundant backup drives and a spare server ready for the worst case situation - a complete server failure or theft/fire.

Well, to cut a long story very short...

  • YES the backups have been running
  • YES the spare server is ready and waiting
  • YES we know how to restore the server backup, but
  • NO the procedure we'd documented and rehearsed previously no longer works!
The problem is that Microsoft have changed their backup software recently and so backups taken with the older software can't be restored using the new one.  Despite trying all sorts of fixes, workarounds and Microsoft-suggested procedures the backup refuses to restore properly.

We've now changed backup software so that we don't have this problem again but thank goodness we'd tried the rehearsal now (when we weren't in crisis with a server down) rather than later when we were!

This underlines a truism in IT - backups are not worth anything until you've actually tried to restore data from them.  If you (or your IT manager/support company) haven't run a trial restore lately don't delay or else you too could find that you too have a useless backup when disaster strikes and you need it.

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