Data Backup: Can you Successfully Monitor your Backups?

Data backup is becoming more important as each day passes and the majority of companies now†backup their data utilising backup solutions ranging from backup media to replication and cloud backup solutions. With such a wide range of solutions that are on offer, the level and ease that the solution offers monitoring wise is vast.

Some backup solutions are very secure and robust, but some backup solutions falter on the monitoring aspect. This can and has resulted in companies not being able to successfully restore data as their backups hadnít successfully completed. Without an appropriate and efficient way of monitoring the status of all backups on a daily basis, all sorts of problems could be encountered when attempting to restore data.

The monitoring and management aspects of a data backup solution are sometimes overlooked as some people become more focused on how the solution backs up data and in what condition the backed up data is stored in. The monitoring aspect of a solution is then forgotten about or isnít researched into further, even though this is an aspect of a solution that will be used the most and should be considered as one of the most important parts of the solution.

With some solutions, all you receive is a daily email notification which notifies whether the backups have been successful or not. This is a good start as an email can be checked first thing in the morning and the person will know whether further action is required. However, where do they go next if there have been any problems? With some solutions, a selected employee ends up having to trawl through hundreds of log entries to try and see what may have caused the backup to be unsuccessful. This can lead to important errors being missed and can result in some complacency occurring towards certain errors if they have seen them before. Again, this could lead to problems occurring if data needed to be restored if errors are ignored without knowing exactly what it is referring to and the potential impact that it will have when trying to restore data.

Another factor to consider is whether continuous data protection (CDP) backups are running. This is where a backup is running throughout the day, backing up any new data and therefore shortening the recovery point if data needed to be restored. Receiving an email notification early in the morning may well not be enough for companyís who utilise CDP backups as it is impossible to tell whether there have been any problems with this backup during the day until the following morning without physically checking throughout the day to make sure that the backup is still running. Realistically, this wonít happen as employees will take holiday leave, be out of the office for meetings and become preoccupied with other projects.

Ideally, the monitoring system in place will be a web portal in which any allotted people can log into from anywhere around the world. This can give real time updates and status of all backups, no matter the time of day. This has several benefits as backup management can be centralised, saving time and money as any problematic backup sets are flagged up straight away and the need to trawl through hundreds of logs is drastically reduced as the logs are automatically filtered and monitored. An automated email can be sent out each morning which reflects the status of the backups at that time and therefore this aspect of monitoring is not lost. It is also important to correctly classify errors. A user might become familiar with seeing a backup encountering errors but know that the errors do not impact their data recovery plans. However, if that backup then encounters a different kind of error, the user can easily ignore the problem believing it to be business as usual, as they still see the same backup reporting with errors. If the error is considered acceptable it should be re-classified so it is not an error – the backup then informs the user it is successful until new errors appear.

Having an effective method to monitor backups is vital as it can help save time and money. More importantly, it can help determine whether the backups have been successful or not which will help determine whether you will be able to restore your data. Having a combination of a web portal with real time monitoring complimented by a daily email report which gives a notification of any problematic backup sets†is an ideal way to monitor your backups.

Do you monitor your backups? How effectively can you monitor your backups?

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