Monitoring Your Backups

I hope that most of you are already backing up your data on a regular basis. Automating the backup process is the best way to ensure that you will have a backup copy of your data when loss or disaster occurs. IT professionals have been automating backup tasks for years. Even the simplest backup programs provide some way to schedule them to run on a defined schedule. Unfortunately there is one critical backup task that is not usually automated; the handling of backup media. Mishandled backup media, or neglected procedures for changing media often lead to failed backups and restores. You can't just schedule your data backup system and let it run automatically and then assume that everything is going to be OK.*

Data backup procedures need to be monitored. Even highly automated systems will encounter problems that require human intervention. Assuming that no news is good news could be a disaster waiting to happen. I have personally experienced many cases where backup jobs fail to backup data for weeks at a time unbeknownst to anyone. It can be a devastating experience to find out that your data backup has been failing at the time when you have lost your data. If your backup job has been automated and running quietly for months, you best check and make sure it is doing what you think it is.

An occasional checkup on your backup system is not good enough. It needs to be monitored daily. You can either check your backup logs every morning, or use some kind of monitoring system to alert you when there is a problem. Most of the professional backup systems will send alerts when backups fail or encounter errors. It is the small business and home users who are most vulnerable. Don't just assume your data is backed up.

*There is one type of system that may be fully automated and may even alert you to a problem. That is online backup. Some of the better online backup service providers will send you alerts when problems occur.

No comments: