When it comes to recovering data from a backup source, practice makes perfect. And failing to practice can leave your small business in a terrible mess at the worst possible time.Data storage expert George Crump drives home this point in a recent InformationWeek column that explains the relationship between data backups and the recovery process: One thing suppliers and analysts are quick to point out is that when it comes to data protection it is not about how well you backup, it is about how well you recover. That sounds very catchy and for the most part is accurate. I believe however, that backup is an equally important part of the data protection puzzle. It is after all poor backup strategies that make recovery so hard and unpredictable. Crump offers several suggestions to help companies get a better grip on their data-recovery strategies. He recommends, for example, that companies invest in backup reporting tools that can give "an accurate, snapshot overview of the backup process." He also emphasizes the importance of a backup solution that can move critical business data backups to a secure off-site location -- reliably and efficiently.
But Crump's most important suggestion focuses on the human variable in the data-recovery equation. After all, many disasters that place a company's data at risk could also disrupt its normal IT operations or leave key IT staff members unavailable for an extended period.
The first key to an effective data-recovery plan involves documenting every step required to implement it. The second requires real-world testing to ensure that other team members, or perhaps even a trusted outside IT service provider, can follow the plan and put it into effect.
It might even make sense to recruit a pool of data-recovery team members -- and then occasionally toss one member the backup-and-restore manual, without warning, to see how long it takes them to walk through the process.
Bear in mind that many disruptive events, by their very nature, are extremely chaotic. It is possible to address some events by restoring lost data from internal backup systems. In other cases, a company's off-site backups may be its only hope for restoring business operations in a timely manner. In order for a plan to work, team members must know exactly when, how, and where to implement appropriate data-recovery procedures.
Let's face it: Most of us get annoyed when a fire drill interrupts what we are doing. A data-recovery drill creates many of the same problems, including the inevitable complaints about "doing it later."
That's short-sighted thinking when you realize that fire drill just might save your life. And it is just as inappropriate to put off a regular data-recovery drill that could save your business.
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