Imagine that your business suffers a data disaster. An employee has opened a malicious file with a virus in it, there’s been a flooding in the server room, or someone’s just accidentally deleted a vital file. No problem, you’ve got backups, right?
Unfortunately, when you boot up your backup, you find it doesn’t work. But it’s nothing to do with your backup software—you forgot to run a test restore with your backup. Your backup data is corrupt and unusable, leaving you without the original and a copy.
So why does this happen in the first place? Well, the truth is there’s thousands of ways it could happen—here are some of the most common.
1. Media Failure
This is one of the most common reasons that backups and restores fail, and one that has nothing to do with your software. This is particularly common when using tape, CD or DVD media. Make sure you follow the proper precautions for storing this media and remember that some media has a use-by date.
Running a test restore is the quickest way to make sure your media is totally functional and storing your data properly.
2. Human Error
Human error is one of the primary causes for anything failing, period. Whether it’s having the tape you’re meant to back up on ejected when you’re running a backup job to backing up the wrong data in the wrong way, mistakes happen.
By running a test restore, not only do you double-check the job was completed properly, it’s a great exercise in disaster rehearsal. You want to be familiar with the process to cut down on downtime (Like a fire drill!)
3. Software Interference
There are countless software products out there and even the mainstream ones can cause problems. For instance, you may be running Antivirus software or a firewall which directly interferes with the backup process by restricting access to certain files. A lot of the time these problems can be solved by proper configuration.
The best way to determine if software is interfering with your backup processes is to perform a test restore. (You may be sensing a pattern in the solutions to all these problems!)
4. Not Enough Space
Sometimes, you can accidentally run out of space on the drive where you’re storing your backup. It’s more common than you’d think. This could happen for any number of reasons, but the most common is that the size of your database grew.
5. Network Failure
When you’re backing up over a network, a poor or severed connection can cause a backup job to time out or fail. This is less of a repetitive problem because it’s fairly obvious when a network is down or stalling.
6. Proper Permissions
Sometimes you just don’t have the proper permissions to access the data you want to back up in the first place. That means the data that might be the most important to you never got transferred to the backup media.
The best way to make sure that business-critical files did make it to the intended destination is by, you guessed it, performing a test restore.
Conclusion: Run Test Restores!
Again, these are only six of many reasons a backup might fail, but for almost all these potential hiccups there is usually one solution—running a test restore. Even with the most comprehensive backup and recovery software in the world, there are tens of thousands of programs out there to accommodate for, many of which are constantly being changed with updates and patches. Safeguarding yourself against this is as simple as doing a swift data restore.
Even though running a test restore is a vital part of any backup strategy, there are other countermeasures you can take. Backup software like BackupAssist has in-built anti-corruption defenses that test your backup destination before you start your backup job, then verifies it has made it there intact after the process is completed.