Tips for Testing Backup Restorability

A backup is only as good as its restorability. And like Schrödinger’s cat, you may not know the status until you go have a look. We’ve all heard nightmares about that business who was hit with Ransomware then when it came time to restore – realized a bad state of affairs. Maybe they were using an online service which estimates multiple days worth of restore time, or perhaps they weren’t backing up all the necessary data. In some situations perhaps the backups themselves had been corrupted. This brings about the question:

How can I be sure that my backups are restorable?

 

The fact is you should be testing your backups at least quarterly, if not monthly, to make sure you’ve got what it takes to get back to business as usual – quickly. Because employees standing around unable to work is a financial loss on an exponential scale. So here’s a few tips to offer some peace of mind that your backups are reliable.

 

  1. Import a full backup, and restore a few individual files

    Trust Level, Medium Low
    By performing this action you are checking that the backup itself is accessible and that it is capable of restoring some data. Restore a few files to an alternate location, so as not to mix it with original data, and check to make sure the data is valid. Compare it to the original files. You can do this quickly for some assurance, although it does not guarantee that you’ve backed up all necessary data to begin with.

  1. Import a full backup on a different system,Trust Level, Medium restore individual files

    The additional step of bringing the backup into a different environment and restoring files, should give you boosted sense of security that data can be accessed if primary system is lost entirely, and that your file backups alone are enough to get back to work. (Watch a video on restoring individual files from backups)

  1. Mount System Image backup, restore individual files

    Trust Level, Medium High
    A similar procedure ( see our tech article here ), but using a system image backup ensures that the entire system has been captured for restore. Again, restore some files to an alternate location and verify that the restored data is usable.

  1. Restore System Image entirely to alternate hard drive

    Trust Level, High

    While this may be the most time consuming of tests, maintaining a swappable drive that you can restore an entire system image to, gives you the highest level of assurance that your backup is viable at the time you need it most.

While these are a few options that everyone can use for testing the restorability of their backups, there are plenty of other ways to test for those with more complex or specialized environments.

How do you test your backups? Let us know in the comments.

Until next time, we wish you 100% data security – so test those backups often!

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