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Data Protection Diaries: March 31 World Backup Day is Restore Data Test Time

Data Protection Diaries: March 31 World Backup Day is Restore Data Test Time

By Greg Schulz

Storage I/O trends

World Backup Day Generating Awareness About Data Protection

This World Backup Day piece is part of my ongoing Data Protection Diaries series of posts (www.dataprotecitondiaries.com) about trends, strategies, tools and best practices spanning applications, archiving, backup/restore, business continuance (BC), business resiliency (BR), cloud, data footprint reduction (DFR), security, servers, storage and virtualization among other related topic themes.

data protection threat risk scenarios
Different threat risks and reasons to protect your digital assets (data)

March 31 is World Backup Day which means you should make sure that your data and digital assets (photos, videos, music or audio, scanned items) along with other digital documents are protected. Keep in mind that various reasons for protecting, preserving and serving your data regardless of if you are a consumer with needs to protect your home and personal information, or a large business, institution or government agency.

Why World Backup Day and Data Protection Focus

By being protected this means making sure that there are copies of your documents, data, files, software tools, settings, configurations and other digital assets. These copies can be in different locations (home, office, on-site, off-site, in the cloud) as well as for various points in time or recovery point objective (RPO) such as monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and so forth.

Having different copies for various times (e.g. your protection interval) gives you the ability to go back to a specific time to recover or restore lost, stolen, damaged, infected, erased, or accidentally over-written data. Having multiple copies is also a safeguard incase either the data, files, objects or items being backed up or protected are bad, or the copy is damaged, lost or stolen.

Restore Test Time

While the focus of world backup data is to make sure that you are backing up or protecting your data and digital assets, it is also about making sure what you think is being protected is actually occurring. It is also a time to make sure what you think is occurring or know is being done can actually be used when needed (restore, recover, rebuild, reload, rollback among other things that start with R). This means testing that you can find the files, folders, volumes, objects or data items that were protected, use those copies or backups to restore to a different place (you don’t want to create a disaster by over-writing your good data).

In addition to making sure that the data can be restored to a different place, go one more step to verify that the data can actually be used which means has it be decrypted or unlocked, have the security or other rights and access settings along with meta data been applied. While that might seem obvious it is often the obvious that will bite you and cause problems, hence take some time to test that all is working, not to mention get some practice doing restores.

Data Protection and Backup 3 2 1 Rule and Guide

Spiceworks backup data protection

Recently I did a piece based on my own experiences with data protection including Backup as well as Restore over at Spiceworks called My copies were corrupted: The 3-2-1 rule. For those not familiar, or as a reminder 3 2 1 means have more than three copies or better yet, versions stored on at least two different devices, systems, drives, media or mediums in at least one different location from the primary or main copy.

Following is an excerpt from the My copies were corrupted: The 3-2-1 rule piece:

Not long ago I had a situation where something happened to an XML file that I needed. I discovered it was corrupted, and I needed to do a quick restore.

“No worries,” I thought, “I’ll simply copy the most recent version that I had saved to my file server.” No such luck. That file had been just copied and was damaged.

“OK, no worries,” I thought. “That’s why I have a periodic backup copy.” It turns out that had worked flawlessly. Except there was a catch — it had backed up the damaged file. This meant that any and all other copies of the file were also damaged as far back as to when the problem occurred.

Read the full piece here.

Backup and Data Protection Walking the Talk

Yes I eat my own dog food meaning that I practice what I talk about (e.g. walking the talk) leveraging not just a  3 2 1 approach, actually more of a 4 3 2 1 hybrid which means different protection internals, various retention's and frequencies, not all data gets treated the same, using local disk, removable disk to go off-site as well as cloud. I also test candidly more often by accident using the local, removable and cloud copies when I accidentally delete something, or save the wrong version.

Some of my data and applications are protected throughout the day, others on set schedules that vary from hours to days to weeks to months or more. Yes, some of my data such as large videos or other items that are static do not change, so why backup them up or protect every day, week or month? I also align the type of protection, frequency, retention to meet different threat risks, as well as encrypt data. Part of actually testing and using the restores or recoveries is also determining what certificates or settings are missing, as well as where opportunities exist or needed to enhance data protection.

Closing comments (for now)

Take some time to learn more about data protection including how you can improve or modernize while rethinking what to protect, when, where, why how and with what.

In addition to having copies from different points in time and extra copies in various locations, also make sure that they are secured or encrypted AND make sure to protect your encryption keys. After all, try to find a digital locksmith to unlock your data who is not working for a government agency when you need to get access to your data ;)...

Learn more about data protection including Backup/Restore at www.dataprotectiondiaries.com where there are a collection of related posts and presentations including:

Also check out the collection of technology and vendor / product neutral data protection and backup/restore content at BackupU (disclosure: sponsored by Dell Data Protection Software) that includes various webinars and Google+ hangout sessions that I have been involved with.

Watch for more data protection conversations about related trends, themes, technologies, techniques perspectives in my ongoing data protection diaries discussions as well as read more about Backup and other related items at www.dataprotectiondiaries.com.

Ok, nuff said

Cheers
Gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.