Test Your Backups

A lot of data management is about risk prevention and near the top of that list is having a good backup system (or two). But what I want to talk about today is that it’s not enough to have a backup system in place, you also need to know that it’s working.

There are an incredible number of stories about loosing data due to poor backups, but one of the best comes from the makers of Toy Story 2.

The moral of the story is to check your backups.

You should check your backups for two reasons. First, you need to know that they are working properly. A backup that is not working is not a backup at all. You should test your backups periodically, say once or twice a year, and any time you make changes to your backup system. If your data are particularly complex to back up or particularly valuable, considering testing your backups more frequently.

The second reason to test your backups is to know how to restore from backup. Believe me, you don’t want to be learning how to restore from backup when you’re already in a panic over loosing the main copy of your data. Knowing how to restore from backup ahead of time will make the data recovery process go much more smoothly.

It’s a small thing to periodically test restore from backup, but it will give you the piece of mind that your data are being properly backed up and that you will be able to recover everything if something happens to your main copy. On balance, that’s definitely worth taking a few minutes out of your day for.