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Published 9 May 2015

Adrian Fowler

Adrian Fowler
Managing Director

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Data Backup & Disaster Recovery

Understand the difference and prepare for the event.

Many companies mistakenly believe that their normal scheduled backup routine will cover them in the event of an outage or disaster. I’ve heard many IT Managers and Managing Director’s state “our data is backed up each night, that’s our disaster recovery plan.”

Data backup and disaster recovery are not the same. The backup software or hardware can fail or the person(s) & processes responsible for backing up can also fail. Also, backing up without recovery in mind is tantamount to not backing up at all. Finally, there are other steps you have to take in order to successfully restore your data in the event you need to engage your backup. Steps like building the right recovery environment (physical servers, storage systems, software licences for example) and the right people, processes and tools to bring back the data.

1) Backup software or hardware can fail:
There are many examples where unjustified faith in data backup left an organization in hot water after a disruption. Take the case of Amazon in 2011. What seemed like a routine server recovery after a major crash turned into a major headache, resulting in several customer’s data files being permanently lost. Despite indications that backups were successful, ultimately, data recovery was not 100% possible due to previously undiagnosed hardware failure and poor disaster recovery planning.

2) You have to backup with recovery in mind:
Your backup system HAS to be designed as if you are definitely going to need to restore data from it at some point in the future. An example of why this is important:

Many companies manage their backup and disaster recovery strategy poorly. They backup data from different servers and applications across multiple tapes. From a backup perspective, companies see the main concern as a not restoring data in a time effective manner, but quickly backing it up. When they begin to restore their data they realized that recovering from a combination of different tapes to an array of target servers & applications created a million-piece jigsaw puzzle that was nearly impossible to reconstruct. In the end they couldn’t find all the pieces of the puzzle so not all of the data was ultimately recovered.

3) Data backup is only the first chapter:
Getting data backed up effectively off-site is only the first stage of a good disaster recovery strategy. The second stage is having the right recovery systems, processes and key staff in place, ready to restore your data. Having servers, hardware and software readily available in a recovery environment is key to achieving a quick and effective disaster recovery. For larger companies, having a maintained replica of your production environment in your recovery location is a necessity. For smaller businesses this is not always feasible, but a well written disaster recovery plan, well rehersed procedure, some reserve hardware, with regular testing of data restoration & failover will be adequate.

As you can see, data backup and disaster recovery are not the same. But they are both required in order to maintain long-term resiliency of business data. Companies must have the right mindset which means 1) backing up according to your backup plan and goals, 2) having the right recovery environment and backup & failover testing, and systems in place and 3) having the right people, processes and strategy in place and making sure they will be available at the right time.

Apograph’s experienced team of I.T specialists can provide consultation on your existing backup solution & processes and advise of any weaknesses that may introduce risk to your business. We can recommend and provide tailored backup and disaster recovery solutions to meet the data resilience goals of your business, to augment or replace your existing strategy.

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