By Alex Eiriksson, COO of SecurStore Online Backup
September 24, 2010

SecurStore Online Data Backup Expert Tips: Beating the Odds – Managing a Successful Backup Project

Businesses are mostly aware that a good backup and recovery strategy is essential to their survival in case of a disaster. Most businesses are often content with just bare minimum requirement and preparation for disasters. It is only in the face of a disaster that they realize that the approach was inadequate. The central part of a data protection strategy is a good backup.

However, more than half of all backups fail either in whole or in part. Most of them fail because of the same issues cropping up time and again. Issues such as media failure, human error and hardware failure are among the most common reasons backups fail. Let’s beats the odds and see what it takes to manage a successful backup project.

Media failure tops the list of reasons why backups fail. In case of tape, it is important to take precautions against media failure by substituting the tapes frequently and cleaning the drives. One should also toss out any suspicious tapes. In case of disk based backup, though instances of failure are relatively lower, backups do fail. For instance, backups on SATA disk arrays are often used since they cost less and though low on performance, they are pretty high on reliability. It is advisable to opt for backup arrays that have features such as redundant power supplies and hot spare disks to ensure that data is not at risk.

Usually there’s a significant component of human error in any backup failure and the key to a good backup project is to minimize human error. For instance, if a tape is not stored properly, that is the fault of the IT staff and not the media’s. The best way to minimize human failure is to train the staff to follow industry standard best practices. They need to know what has to be done and what should not be done. However, the best way to tackle this aspect of backup is to remove the human element as much as possible by automating backups.

A business should also be cautious against software and hardware failure. Most modern backup software has several options to choose from while configuration and selecting the incorrect options can lead to incomplete backups or backups that fail totally.

The business should also be prepared to face challenges posed by failure of backup hardware such as tape drives, libraries, and disk arrays. Some of the hardware failures are specific to backup devices. For instance, tape drives tend to succumb to drift. As a drive ages, the heads move out of alignment making it impossible for other drives to read them. Such instances of hardware failure need to be avoided for a successful backup project.

Lastly, a business should be careful while backing up over a network. Anything from a failed or flaky HBA to a badly configured switch can cause a backup to fail. However, these kinds of failure are less common since the network is used for other purposes apart from just backup and any problems are detected quickly and rectified easily.

All said and done, the best way to conduct a successful backup is to check if the project was completed as per the requirements. By frequently checking for backup failures, the business will be able to fix the problem before the backup is required and save time and reduce cost when the backup is actually required.

SecurStore provides a bespoke off-site backup solution catered for customers who have both mission critical data and non-critical data i.e. it provides customers with a secure & efficient backup and recovery solution, which is sustainable over time. This coupled with agentless technology and advanced support for all environments and applications makes it suitable for any type of business, data centre provider or reseller.

About the Author: Alex Eiriksson is the COO of SecurStore, an Asigra based cloud backup provider certified by British Standards Institute for ISO 27001 and ANAB. Established in 1991, SecurStore provides businesses and enterprise customers a technically advanced solution in UK, Europe, USA, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

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