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The 5 main causes of backup failure and how to fix them

The 5 main causes of backup failure and how to fix them 

So, how can one avoid the common problem of failure?  

Below you will see the 5 main reasons that cause failures and how to go about fixing these issues.  

Bear in mind that this list serves as a guide to help decrease failure rates, but is not a guarantee for success.  The good news is that in following this guide, you will have better chances of creating a stronger backup environment.

Reason #1:  The process of monitoring is ineffective

Any given failure is challenging to locate and understand because of the way the process of monitoring functions today.  In truth, the world of IT has grown leaps and bounds since these systems were first set up, making it nearly impossible to monitor all servers.  

In the event of problems, monitoring does not come through as it should and only leads to a tedious process of trying to unravel issues.  

So what is the solution?  

A system needs to be put into place that can monitor data by performing certain functions automatically, while granting a complete picture of the overall health of the environment.  

This updated tool should also show the individual servers as well as the clients.  Another great solution would be to incorporate a system with the ability to monitor various vendors and their unique backup programs.

Reason #2:  Administrators are missing alerts

Because life is fluid, factors within the IT world can easily change over time such as staff, servers and applications. Though an alert sent through email is generally an effective way to communicate a problem, the most prudent thing to do is to take the extra step of verifying that the right person received the alert.  The best solution towards ensuring the proper delivery of an important message is to implement a real-time alert system which would be sent to several people in the form of an email, SNMP integration, and SMS.  This would create a quick and effective way to ensure that the alert is being received by the right person and that they are given all of the correct information.

Reason #3:  Command line driven operation causes lots of problems

By defaulting to the command line driven operation, errors are much more possible.  Unfortunately, many people in the IT world prefer this interface, mainly because they are used it and it helps them to complete jobs quickly.   The problem is that it facilitates a lack of consistency in backups because of the variety of different administrators using the interface.  Sometimes, best practices are not followed or strictly reinforced regarding timely updates, making it incredibly error prone.  The best solution would be to incorporate an interface which grants GUI operation of backup features.  In implementing this system into IT departments, the risk of error is greatly reduced, whereas the ability of repeating operations is enhanced.  

Reason #4:  Professionals are not spending the time required on reports and planning

Many in the IT world would prefer to focus their attention on reports that sent an alert.  This is not all bad, but professional cannot neglect that alerts are only one piece of the management puzzle.  When too much time is spent in one area, other reports that are equally as important are missed or not given sufficient attention.  It is important for administrators to remember that data on the primary backup drive isn’t saved for very long, meaning that it may never be given proper attention since it might soon become inaccessible.  When this happens, the ability to unravel and protect against future failure is next to impossible.  What IT administrators can do is gather the data from the primary and backup servers into their own individual databases.  This way, daily backup operations won’t be interrupted and they will continue to run well.  In doing this simple task, the data can be properly analyzed at a later date, and used in reports that will help individual department.  

Reason #5:  The problem of misconfiguration

Misconfigurations are a prime example of things going wrong in an IT department.  Generally, they occur as a result of oversized data and server spheres.  Here are some examples of common problems that can cause misconfiguration.

Incorrect sizing of recovery logs:  When these logs are incorrectly sized, it is typical for information to go missing.  This is due to the fact that the information is no longer being recorded.  In order to avert disaster, the log must be enlarged manually and restarted.

Errors from disk to tape:  If the disk pool is too small, new data may not be accepted.  This results in delayed backups and missed backup windows.  Additionally, in going from disk to tape, there are situations in which tape cannot keep up with the speed of the data being written from the disk.  When this occurs, the disk pool can’t receive backup data.               

Multitude of concurrent backup sessions:  With the constant growth in technology today, it is not uncommon to have too many clients with too many backup systems.  With this abundance comes the high probability of missed backup windows.  The best way to limit problems in this regard is to incorporate a larger monitoring system.  This way, professional are better able to grasp the health of their whole environment.  Errors are quickly discovered, as are environmental changes.  The best solution is to pair the right backup software with a large enough monitoring tool so that backup environments are being properly managed.

Is it art or science behind an efficient backup environment?

When considering a backup sphere that is running smoothly, people often want to attribute the success to just one thing.  The truth is however, a good backup world is effective because of many factors, not simply one.  Both art and science are at work in a well-running system.  

There is real science behind the ability to predict problems and see trends, along with producing accurate reports and effectively monitoring the sphere.  However, managing an ever-changing backup environment is just as much a true art that must be perfected over time.

At the end of the day, an efficient backup environment is a result of both the arts and the sciences.

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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