Do We Need World Backup Day?

March 31 is World Backup Day. Do we really need a day devoted to something that we should be doing every day? If we do, we should have a World Test Recovery Day, too.

George Crump

March 29, 2012

4 Min Read
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March 31 is World Backup Day. Maybe I' m a bit guilty of living in the computer storage industry too long, but I have to wonder: do we really need a day devoted to something that we should be doing every day? If we do, I think we should have a World Test Recovery Day. That might provide more valuable results and it would be interesting to see what would happen to the cloud if everyone recovered all their data at the same time.

The ideas behind the World Backup Day site are worthwhile. The information on the site is good: you should do backups daily, you should try to recover data every so often. I' d like to see more detailed information for consumers as well as business but overall it is a great start. My concern is that a day devoted to getting the word out about backups is not enough.

When you ask about backups most people will admit that they know they need to do them. Businesses try to back up faithfully, but the problem is they don't trust those backups. We should be at the point in both consumer and business technology that backups just happen and we should mostly be focused on making sure that the restore process is faster and has fewer gaps in it. Of course we are not quite there yet.

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One day focused on backup isn't going to make much of a difference. People are either going to do them or they won't. Those who are not doing backups and those who are but don't trust the backup need to find solutions to the data protection process that are easier and more automatic. There are solid solutions out there now for consumers and businesses alike that make this process much better than it has ever been.

As we discussed in our recent webinar, 5 Ways That Your Backups Will Get You Fired, the backup process is critical. Don't buy into the latest marketing catch phrase, "It's all about recovery." The truth is that data protection is all about backup, recovery, and testing. You must have good backup to be able to recover anything. To say it is all about recovery implies that all backups work. They don't. Backups break, mostly due to changes in the environment. Even the best backup software struggles to discover and work around those changes.

Testing, then, becomes a very critical part of the process, a part that is in some ways more important than backup and recovery. The problem with the "all about recovery" chant is if you find out that you can't recover data because something wasn't being backed up correctly or at all, it's probably too late to do anything about it. Testing means the data is still where it should be and if something goes wrong, you can fix it. Plus you don't even have to tell anyone that something went wrong if you don't want to.

The challenge with testing is how to make it easier so that it can be done on a regular basis. Again, like backups, testing is becoming easier to do. For businesses, I am a big fan of virtualization to make recovery testing easier. This eliminates having to stand up another server and reload an operating system. Just recover the virtual machine. Some suppliers even provide provisions for starting the test VM directly from the backed-up image.

World Backup Day is a good idea, but World Test Recovery Day would provide more meaningful results. Frankly we shouldn't need a "day" about anything. The software and hardware exist to make backups and recoveries faster and testing easier. This allows us to move away from thinking of data protection as a day or process--and more as a part of the fabric of the data center.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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