Moving from traditional device-based backup to some form of managed online backup has obvious benefits - for businesses and for the IT consultants who serve them.
To realize these benefits, however, solid effort must be put into the initial configuration and testing.
This article details five key points that you must address when implementing this type of backup strategy.
When online backup jobs are first configured, it is essential that you ensure that all the pockets of data stored on the network are identified and included in the jobs. Things to think about include email PST files that users may have been configured on individual machines, user profile data, and database backup files. Now is a good time to take control of all the data on the LAN.
It is rarely advisable to simply backup the file level data associated with Exchange or SQL databases. Often, managed online backup services offer Exchange and SQL agents as an additional add-on service.
These will allow data to be restored at “brick level,” – as an example this helps you to restore a single mail or folder of mail without having to perform a complicated Exchange recovery procedure.
It is likely that the office Internet connection will be heavily utilized during backup windows, resulting in slow performance for users. Collaborate with the heaviest users of the system when determining the best backup windows to avoid interrupting out-of-hours work. In addition, make use of email alert features so that you are instantly notified if a backup fails or cannot complete in the allocated time
An untested backup solution is little better than no backup at all. Restore testing should be thorough and frequent. A good way to perform restore tests is to simulate the loss of certain data – i.e. the contents of an entire share or group of mailboxes, and attempt to restore them. If your online backup is an image based system that allows for quick restoral of an entire server, then a full disaster recovery simulation should be carried out – there is no point in clients paying for this service unless it is sure to work when it counts.
Even if managed backup is taking the place of local device backup as the key backup strategy, best practice dictates that there should always be a secondary backup method in place. This may take the form of a weekly backup to an external drive or NAS device, or could reuse some redundant backup hardware made available by the online backup implementation. Whichever option is chosen, it should be configured as carefully and tested as thoroughly as the online backup solution, with care taken to ensure the backup windows for the two methods do not clash.
Taking time to ensure that these steps are followed in the early days of managed online backup implementation pays great dividends in terms of data security and peace of mind.