Backup and Recovery Testing: Steps to Take

Backup and recovery testing

Some might think backups are a set-it-and-forget-it routine, an invisible shield against the unforeseen. However, the harsh reality is that disasters strike unexpectedly through ransomware attacks, hardware failures or human errors leading to data loss. 

As an expert managed service provider, we believe it’s time to dispel the myth that disasters only happen to other people — they can and will happen to you. That’s why backup and recovery testing is critical.

In this blog post, we go over the crucial steps of backup and recovery testing, ensuring that your data remains not only backed up but also recoverable when the need arises.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Backup Plan

Before going over the testing process, it’s essential to create a detailed list of your backup routines. Even if you have a reliable system administrator or consider yourself well-versed in your infrastructure, unforeseen circumstances can leave you stranded without a complete understanding of your backup system. 

Remember, people move on and you don’t want critical knowledge to walk out the door with them.

Creating a comprehensive list involves documenting all backup routines, types, retention settings and the necessary hardware for backup and recovery operations. Include recovery time and recovery point calculations to assess the adequacy of your backup plans. 

Unsure where to begin? Consider an IT consulting company’s expertise to help you determine the current status of your backup plans and where they should be.

This meticulous approach ensures that testing your backups later becomes a seamless process, eliminating the risk of downtime during critical situations.

Backup and Recovery Testing: The Backups

Testing backups involves a thorough evaluation of your infrastructure and data to guarantee that when the time comes, your recovery process is smooth and effective. Here are essential checks to perform regularly:

1. Infrastructure Health Check

If you’re using local backup infrastructure, examine the SMART drives and NAS devices for optimal performance. For cloud-based solutions, ensure the consistency of all files in storage.

2. Data Consistency

Some backup solutions offer features to verify data consistency on the machine and in storage, ensuring data integrity throughout the backup process. Consistency ultimately means better performance and helps your company adhere to industry IT compliance standards.

3. Infrastructure Coverage

Audit your infrastructure to confirm that all critical components are part of your backup plans. Missing a vital element could prove catastrophic in the event of a disaster.

4. Security Settings

Evaluate data encryption settings both in transit and at rest. Assess the need for filename encryption and scrutinize access policies using the principle of least privilege.

Recovery Testing: Bringing Your Data Back to Life

Recovery is a distinct process from backup and requires its own set of tests and checks to ensure its efficacy. Here are the key steps:

1. Adhere to Estimations

Test per your recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) to determine the speed of recovery and the acceptable data loss during downtime.

2. Define Test Scope

Break down recovery testing from simple to complex scenarios, including single file recovery, single machine or server recovery (with and without infrastructure), and interconnected parts of your network and infrastructure.

3. Establish a Test Schedule

Regularly schedule tests to keep pace with infrastructure changes. Ensure tests don’t disrupt business operations by scheduling them outside business hours.

4. Document

Document every aspect of your tests, including schedule, scope, specific tests and their results, RTO and RPO estimations, authorized personnel, and relevant team members who need to be notified.

Backup and Recovery Testing: Building Resilience into Your Infrastructure

Backup and recovery tests are not mundane exercises but proactive measures to ensure your ability to resurrect every component of your infrastructure in the face of disaster, human error or system failure. 

Create an optimal testing environment, covering all vital aspects of your business. This ensures not only a reliable backup and recovery system but also a good night’s sleep for you and your team. 

Remember, in data management and your cyber security efforts, resilience is the key to uninterrupted business continuity. At Merit Technologies, we understand the nuances of these processes and we’re here to guide you toward a robust and secure data management strategy.Talk with an expert or contact us today if you have questions about backup and recovery testing.

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