Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: Understanding reporting and testing notifications

Image via Pixar

I heard this story about Pixar a few years ago: in the middle of making Toy Story 2 one of the coders accidentally ran a command which began deleting chunks of the movie and it wouldn’t stop until there was nothing left.

First Woody disappears. Then Buzz. Then Rex. Within a few seconds all of the characters were gone, irreparably wiped from the server and now whole scenes were erasing before their eyes.

Why you should test your notifications

In this series of three articles we’re going to share the best way to protect your systems and data while following the guys at Pixar as they try and resurrect Toy Story 2. Our first article is all about making sure that your notifications are set up right and working.

It’s good to know what is happening in your server room. You wouldn’t want to be thinking everything was A-okay when in fact your server is being systematically stripped of years of man-hours of work and millions of dollars of data. That’s why notifications are important.

They are your email friends, reassuring you that everything is working smoothly and importantly telling you if or when something’s going wrong. As with all of your critical systems it helps if you test your email notifications before you need them.

Testing Email Notifications

In BackupAssist reports are created each time you backup or restore. The email notifications you receive are rehashed versions of these internal reports. You don’t need to set anything up to keep getting reports within BackupAssist.

If you do have email notifications set up then here’s how you can check they are working:

  • All reports– after you run a backup you should receive a report. If you can’t find it check your spam or junk mail folder and if it’s in one of these it to the safe senders list. If you didn’t get it go back through Email server settings in the Settings Tab and check that the server is set up right.
  • Errors Only – If you chose to get notified only when there are errors then we’ll have to break something in order to get a report. You safest way to do this is to remove the connection to your storage media attached. When you run a backup you’ll get an email letting you know that your drive, cloud storage or device is missing. If you don’t get this see follow the instructions above to troubleshoot.

Setting up email notifications in BackupAssist

In the next article we’re going to look at testing your backups and their settings including some of the common areas where there might be errors. Oh and we’ll also catch up with the Pixar crew again…

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