5 Pitfalls and Best Practices for Data Recovery from Backups

Data Loss
No matter how diligent you are about backing up your data, those backups do no good if the data is not securely stored and available for restoration or recovery in the timeframe necessary to meet business requirements. Here are some of the more common problems with enterprise backup and data recovery that companies run into and best practices to minimize their impact.

1. Data Loss / Theft
Challenge: Tapes, thumb drives and external hard drives can be lost or stolen while in transit or lifted at their destination. For example, on November 4, 2011 UCLA announced that a hard drive with information on 16,288 patients was stolen from a doctor’s home. In addition, Bank of New York Mellon Corp, GE Money and Ameritrade are companies that have reported recently losing backup tapes.
If stolen or missing data is encrypted, the amount of damage is contained. If unencrypted, it can lead to identity theft, compromised trade secrets, damaged company reputation, lawsuits, and regulatory penalties.
Best Practice: Always encrypt backed up data, whether it is stored onsite or off. If it does travel offsite, be sure to use a reliable, trackable method of transport. The final location must be physically secure, such as a bank vault or data storage facility.
2. Data Corruption
Challenge: Data stored on hard disk drives can become corrupted due to demagnetizing, defects and/or disasters. Tape can become corrupted due to similar factors, such as demagnetizing, defects, dirty tape drives, disasters such as fires or floods, and human errors such as formatting failures or accidental overwrites.
Best Practice: When using disk backup, strong RAID encoding and data integrity methods should always be used to minimize odds of corruption due to hardware failure. Tape backups need to be verified, and multiple tape copies should be made.
3. Data Inaccessibility
Challenge: Backup data is not immediately available when needed. For example, if it is in a bank vault, it can only be retrieved during banking hours. If it is kept at a data storage facility, it must be retrieved and transported before it can be restored. If it under the control of an employee, what happens if that person is ill, on vacation or otherwise unavailable?
Best Practice: Make sure backups are in a location that is accessible 24/7, can be quickly transported back to the data center and can be accessed by more than one employee. When using tapes, it is best to have two sets made: keep one set of the backup tapes most likely to be accessed for file restoration onsite in the jukebox and send one set of backup tapes offsite.
4. Recovery times (RTO)
Challenge: When a file is needed in a hurry, time can be lost in locating the backup files, transporting them back to the site, loading a full backup and all incremental backups before a single file can be restored.
Best Practice: Enterprise online backup systems, whether on disk or in a tape library, allow for fast recovery of individual files. It is much better when admins can simply browse a file system and locate the file to restore, rather than having to locate the file in a catalogue, find and load the necessary tape(s) and then restore the file. The best approach is when users can access the online backup and restore their own files without having to go through IT.
5. Recovery costs
Challenge: When using a physical medium, there is the cost incurred in retrieving disk or tape, transporting it back to the site and then restoring all the data. When speed is important, the archive vendor will charge an expedite feed.
Best Practice: Keep an online backup as the best way to quickly and simply restore a file. With online storage, the backups are located on a spinning disk, either on premises or at a service provider.
The Enterprise Online Backup Alternative
A file-system based enterprise online backup and restore service, such as Zetta, provides instant recovery of a single file or an entire file storage system. For example, the IT administrator or even an end user can just mount the online backup as an external drive and copy over any files as needed or simply access the files in-place. And, since Zetta uses a highly-redundant architecture and employs both data encryption and constant data checks, there is no worry about data corruption or hardware failure.
For more information, view a short video of ZettaMirror online recovery to see how it works.

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