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How to quickly test your backups

It’s good that you do daily backups, you are doing daily backups right? But how do you test them? Well there is a quick easy and safe method of doing so and this article explains how.

Many times we have attended new client sites having been contacted for help with a disaster recovery situation. In only 50% of the cases we have handled have the customer had full and adequate backups to enable us to recover the data quickly.

In some sad cases the data was not recoverable and of those all of them went out of business within a year as a result.

Here are some common mistakes when backing up.

• Only backing up the shortcuts to the data NOT the actual data. This is deadly and quite common. Icons on your desktop just point to where the data is stored. It is important to backup the actual files they point to.
• Overwriting daily. You should hold 3 weeks’ worth of backups. If you over right them every day you run the risk of overwriting good files with today’s corrupted file. Then what? Nothing you can do as restoring the corrupt file is pointless
• Skipping files in use – Databases are always in use and get constantly skipped by backup software unless you buy the expensive SQL agents (Backup Exec SQL Agent) for example. Well its worth the money because your not backing up your database properly without these agents.
• Not selecting the right files in the first place. All your logs say backup completed successfully so we’re OK right? Well not if it says “backup completed successfully 0 bytes”

There are more common backup fault issues but I think I’ve made my point with this few.

Test your backups regularly. If you do the following it should take less than 15 minutes (depending on your backup method of choice) We recommend our clients do this exercise once per month and in some cases we do it for them.

Here are three easy steps to test a backup.
1. Choose an important file to test. Don’t worry about losing it if it goes wrong because once you have selected a file you just right click it and rename the file (Example: Customer Contract Template.doc Rename to Customer Contract Template OLD.doc)
2. Restore the file from backup. This is the bit that takes the most time depending on your backup method. Finding the right tape or CD is likely to take the time. This depends on how organised you are. We use off-site (online internet) backups so we don’t have this issue. If you don’t know how to do this bit then contact us.
3. Open the restored file and compare it to the original (renamed) file. Does it open OK?

You’re done! Simple, quick but vital.

Choose a different file each month. Now if you can’t restore the file then at least you know today rather than discovering that when it is too late.

If you want help choosing the best method of backup for your business just complete the form below and we’ll be happy to guide you. Chances are you might not know all your options and our advice is free.

Footnote: Your backups are only as good as your last restored file. If you don’t backup daily you are using the wrong backup method for you and your business. Contact us.

Author: Support Desk

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