Backup and RESTORE
When did you last test a full restore of your Windows Server?
Best Practice (Litmus Test)
Professionals: Have tested a full server restore in the last 6 months
Amateurs: Carry on backing up but they have no idea if the tapes will restore!
Best Practice for Backup and RESTORE
One of my questions to companies is: 'Have you tried a restore lately?' In some ways this is a cheap shot because hardly anyone tests a full restore every week. Nevertheless do think about restore; you have invested in good software like BackupExec or ArcServe, how would you feel if you try a restore and it fails?
At first I did not believe the statistic that 35% of all backups do not restore in the way that you think. But as I visit sites, the reasons for these failures became apparent. Let me illustrate best practice with four sad case histories.
Case A. The Shifting Files
Backup does its job perfectly. It is just that the important files were moved to a new folder on a different drive. Example: old settings = d:\accounts, new settings e:\superaccounts. Carelessly, the new folder e:\superaccounts was not included in path for the backup job. A variation of this problem is still backing up the old server when you have moved all the data to the new server!
For an in-depth appreciation of backup, check out this article:
Case B. The Nervous Backup Operator
The boss buys a box of tapes and shows the timid assistant how to insert the first tape into the drive. On day one backup works brilliantly. But on day two the operator cannot eject the tape; so being timid, but resourceful, they get out the Tippex. You have guessed what happened next, they write today's date on the label and repeat every day. Guess what happens when you want to restore last weeks data? You only get yesterday's incremental backup.
Case C. The 'Rambo' Operator
New young strapping lad wishes to make an impression. The backup tape was reluctant to eject. No problem to our young Rambo - he ripped the tape out, drive and all! At least with Rambo you knew you had a problem, so many of the backup / restore faults only show up when the disaster strikes.
Case D. Check that backup deals with open files
In my opinion backing up open files used to be Microsoft's Achilles' heel, if it was not so, then BackupExec would never have become a commercial best seller.
In Windows 2000 backup had a fatal flaw, it will not backup open files. More than one company has relied on Windows 2000 to backup SQL and Exchange 5.5 databases. Big mistake. When they wanted to restore there were no database files on the tapes.
Good news, in Server 2003, Volume Shadow Copy has been designed to deal with this very problem of open files.
Always check the Event Viewer logs, especially after backup.
Challenge: Try a full restore on a spare machine - only a 65% chance it will do what you think!
Over 40 of Guy's litmus tests. Have fun while you learn about aspects of computing. Stacks of ideas to check your servers, networks and security.
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Guy's Litmus test is a concept that you can apply anywhere. Each test gives you an instant answer to the simple question:- 'Are you dealing with a professional, or are they an amateur? Is this the real deal, or is it a turkey?' The Litmus Test concept is rather like Best Practice, but it reduces a 27 page report to one sentence.
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