How Can You Tell If Data Backups Are Reliable?
3 Tests You Can Perform
You may think you have a backup but what are you doing with it? Take a look at your backup — To ensure that you can quickly recover your critical data requires backup test restores with daily reports confirming the recovery of your data.
Here are 3 test restores that you can perform to ensure your backups are recoverable.
1. A File-Level Spot Check
A file-level backup is the most basic type of backup. It’s useful if you are backing up your files to hard drives or servers.
- To ensure that you can recover lost files, first go to the file system that’s being backed up. Then select a few files you’ve recently added or changed.
- Create a temporary folder and name it “test-restore.” Use your backup software to find these files in your backup system.
- Restore the selected files to the “test-restore” folder.
- Next, compare the restored files to the originals. Are they the same size (same number of bytes)? Can you open the restored files? Can you view their entire contents?
If not, your backups aren’t reliable and recoverable. But hopefully, this worked for you.
Just to be sure, repeat this process a few times with different files.
2. A Full File System Restore
This test is also for file systems you’ve stored on a server or hard drive. You’ll need a sufficient amount of free space to restore these files.
You can use a spare hard drive, computer or server for the recovery. But If you don’t have an extra system and use your current hard drive or server for this test, be sure not to overwrite your existing files!
This test takes more time, but it’s worth doing to ensure you can recover from a total loss (where your hard drive or server was destroyed, stolen, or just doesn’t work).
- Use your backup software to restore the files to the spare hard drive, computer or server.
- Once complete, do another sampling of the files to ensure they were restored properly.
- Now, spot check a few files like you did in the first test. Compare the total size of files you restored to the original source.
Note: The numbers of bytes may not match precisely because of changes that occurred since the last time the system was backed up — But they should be close.
3. Database Recovery & Verification
To test database backup and recovery you must have a separate hard drive, computer or server for the restored data, so you don’t change the original database. And, it must have the database management system installed on it. (For example, if you are trying to restore an SQL Server database, you must use a machine that’s running the SQL Server engine.)
And, be sure to use a different name for the restored database so you don’t overwrite your original one. You can also run the test by restoring the database to a virtual machine in the Cloud.
Once you’ve done this, perform one of these tests to verify the restore:
- A spot check by running queries against the original database and the recovered one. Compare the results to see if they match.
- Run a macro test. Count the number of rows or compare the overall size of the database in terms of storage utilization. These should roughly be the same as your original database.
- This next test is more difficult but very effective. Connect your applications to the database and see if they run correctly. This is a good test because when you recover systems following a disaster, this is what you’ll need to do.
Testing Backups Is Important But Who Has The Time?
… Aren’t You Busy Enough Running Your Dental Business?
Testing your backup is essential since it verifies that your practice can recover from a data loss. However, is it really practical for you or your staff to do this? Shouldn’t you let an IT professional ensure that you have a reliable and recoverable backup?
How Can You Tell If You Have A Reliable Backup For Your Dental Practice?
Here are 2 more things for you to do:
1. First, make sure that your IT service company is providing managed enterprise-based cloud backups, computer hard drive backups, and complete data, hardware and system recovery services. Ask them about:
- Image-Based Backups that save your files, operating system(s), applications, emails, settings, and user credentials.
- Cloud Backups that are stored in secure data centers, so you don’t have to worry if your hardware is damaged.
- Virtualization Services so you can quickly spin up a virtual copy of your systems and easily access your IT from any computer that’s connected to the Internet.
2. Then make sure that they are running test restores of your backup and providing you daily reports verifying their recoverability.
This is so much easier than running daily backup test restores yourself!
NOVA Computer Solutions in Woodbridge, Virginia specializes in IT Service & Support for dental practices in the DC Metro Area. Contact us for a complimentary IT assessment to ensure your backups are reliable and easily recoverable.
In the meantime, stay up-to-date on significant developments in dental IT. Visit the NOVA Blog! Here are a few articles to get you started:
Is Your Dental Office Paying Too Much For Data Backup for Dentists?
How Can Dental Practices Benefit From IT Services and How Much Should They Cost?
NOVA Computer Solutions Is A Proud Member Of The Dental Integrators Association.
As a consultant to dental practices, I help my clients maximize what can be done with their technology to maximize production and profit.