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Finding the truth in the world of backups, restores and DR processes
SECURITY

Finding the truth in the world of backups, restores and DR processes 

Many falsehoods get recycled again and again regarding how to protect data.  Some of the myths are fear-based while others are simply business drivers, but at the end of the day, they all have one thing in common–they are not true!  In this article, you will find out what some of the most commonly shared myths are in the world of backups, restores, and the DR processes.  After you read this, you will be able to discern how to filter out the myths from the facts, and gain the very confidence needed to manage your department with success.

Falsehood #1:  Many companies report tape failures during a restore.  

Though repeated continually in IT circles, this falsehood has zero reference point.  The explanation as to why it keeps being shared is likely because it is out-of-date information, and should have deleted long ago.  Here is another explanation:  the data may have been sorely misquoted.  Have you ever played the game of “telephone?”  If so, you can likely understand how information gets twisted when shared over time.  

Do you want to know the truth?

Here it is.  A disaster recovery solution is actually set in place for most data centers today.  The best part is, most test their plan out at least 2 times a year to make sure that all of their proverbial “ducks are in a row.”  Now for the negative news.  There are still several companies that don’t have a plan and don’t test.  Those that do not follow through with planning and testing are acting as if they are not aware of all the rapid changes and constant threats that exist today in the IT world!  It is absolutely vital to company health that they have a comprehensive understanding of their backup environment and a recovery plan in order.  To add to that, testing is essential!

Falsehood #2:  Bankruptcy is almost a guarantee for 10-days of recovery post-disaster.

This statement was generated by a Washington-based website that is esteemed.  So, what is the problem?  The problem is that this recycled statement isn’t on their website currently, and is likely the result of being a misquote or simply outdated.

Do you want to know the truth?

The truth is, this issue has been studied extensively, and what has been discovered is that 1 in 3 businesses have gone through a disaster in the past 5 years.  That’s a decent amount, wouldn’t you say?  Another discovery was that a portion of those businesses has around 9 hours of lost data during the DR process.  Ouch.  Even 1 hour of data loss amounts to high costs, so can you imagine 9 hours?  Though the recycled statement above has no source, it is true that many companies experience a disaster, and the cost is significant, but likely not enough to bankrupt the majority of companies.  

Falsehood #3:  Tape fails often, making disk a more dependable option.

You might be wondering how this one got started, seeing as how tape and disk are both equally reliable these days.  Well, the answer to that is likely from CIOs and IT managers who previously worked on tape drive systems that were, at the time, unstable and constantly required restores.  Well that was then, and this is now!  As stated previously, both are more reliable than ever before.

Do you want to know the truth?

Again, both tape and disk are great with respect to dependability.  The two mediums have been studied extensively and have proven their reliability in the outcomes of the studies.  In fact, tape was shown to be even more reliable in certain instances!  However, this statement must be taken in context so that it does not become a global overgeneralization.  The bottom line is this:  tape and disk are essentially equal in terms of reliability, but as tools that are made by human hands, they both have the possibility of failure.  Because of this fact, a proper backup and DR plan is essential.  The reason why companies may choose tape over disk, or vice versa, is mainly because of the size of the environments being backed up.

Falsehood #4:  Tape backups are NOT tested in a large percentage of businesses.  

Many vendors perpetuate this myth because they want to sell products.  They will pair it with other statements that make sure you “know” that tapes restores fail on a consistent basis.  Sometimes, you may hear the above falsehood paired other ideas such as:

  • A majority of people experience tape backup failure during the restore process.
  • Half of tape backup recovery attempts failed this year.
  • A large percentage of IT managers could not recover data from tape.
  • More than half of restores DO fail.
  • Most restores WILL fail.

With respect to these statements, how can people know what is true and what is not?  So often, the above information is just glossed over and given as fact with no room for questions.  It is important to note, however, that not one original source has been found for any statement made above.  That alone speaks volumes to the reliability of these points.  If you hear them used to gain supporters for funding, it is essential to challenge their integrity.

Do you want to know the truth?

All people within the world of IT must bear in mind that backups and restore can and will fail.  Despite high success rates, even a small percentage of failure equals a big amount in one month.  Appropriate software will have the ability to pinpoint the problem areas and assist departments by giving them a clear picture of their entire backup environment.  

In closing, many businesses do not feel their plans are up-to-par in order to handle a disaster.  To be prepared, companies must stay on top of the ever-changing technology and new threats that come on a daily basis.  The truth is that nature, regulations, technology, increased data and brilliant hackers can be overwhelming when considered all at once, but the reality of these threats means companies need to be that much more diligent to not only prepare, but to test their backup, restore, and DR plans.

 Jason Zhang

Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software’s Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.  Learn more about Rocket Servergraph.

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