Your backup failed! What do you do now? Unfortunately, this is an all too common problem for small business owners. The worst part is that you usually do not know about it until you try to recover critical information. Following are some typical causes for backup failures, ways to save your data and prevent these problems in the future.
- Problems with tapes. If you are still using tape drives as your backup, there are multiple failure modes. These include a missing tape in the drive (unless you have a robot, someone has to manually insert a tape), bad tapes (see above) and insufficient space.
- Disk failures. Small businesses are increasingly moving to disk to disk backups for ease of management and reliability. As with tapes, these are not infallible. The reason to backup in the first place is because disk drives sometimes fail. It can and does happen that backup disk drives fail as well, sometimes without triggering explicit errors. Reformatting backup disks may help and in other cases, they must be replaced.
- Backup services failing. The programs that run backups, often as background services, have configuration information, such as passwords, that may fail in certain circumstances. In some cases, one must reset this information and restart the services to get reliable backups.
- Too much data. There is often more data produced than may be backed up economically. This is why it is important to triage which data is most critical and create restore strategies for each type. Otherwise, backup jobs may grow beyond the size of the tapes or disks used to secure the information.
If you have suffered a backup failure at the same time as your system going down, options may be limited. These include expensive data recovery methods or manual reentry of data.
The ideal scenario is to have a backup strategy that includes off-site disaster recover, daily small business remote network monitoring of backups and systematic recovery tests to ensure that your data is safe and restorable when you need it most.
What is your backup strategy?
- Backups may fail due to missing or damaged tapes or backup disk failures
- The programs that run the backups are not fool-proof and disk usage may grow beyond the capacity of the backup media
- To ensure restores, it is critical to monitor backups daily, have an off-site backup and test recovering data