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Disaster Recovery Planning and Testing: Best Practices

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Besides backup, any IT division should have a disaster recovery plan. You will find a few tips below relating to disaster recovery planning best practices, disaster recovery testing process and to what issues one should pay special attention in the course of backup planning.

Assessment

Before the backup procedure implementation, one should assess the infrastructure, services, and possible risks. It is better to start with the creation of the infrastructure scheme to have an understanding of what services are at your disposal and how they depend on each other. Do it on paper or using special software.

Disaster recovery planning: Services structure

Structure of the server that services a few websites under example.com domain

When the scheme is ready, determine the most critical for your business services and an approximate cost of their unavailability. For example, a long recovery of the internal base of service desk critical data will not have a great impact on the business continuity as a whole. However, a long downtime of a client website can result in high losses.

When an assessment of the major infrastructure units is carried out, create a list of issues against which backup will protect. For example, consider whether the backup will be of help if:

  • The user deletes an important file
  • The storage with backups fails or a virus encrypts the data
  • The data centers are destroyed due to an earthquake
  • Hackers find the domain admin password and delete everything they can
  • An employee of the IT department accidentally damages the information

When this list is created, you will be able to understand threat vectors, their probability and plan your backup procedure taking all of that into account.

Storage Planning

Now, when you know what to archive and against what issues backup should protect, you can choose a backup storage. It’s better to focus on the following three types of data backup:

  • Local storage. Allows recovering deleted information. For example, a network folder on the server.
  • Offline storage that is not linked to the infrastructure. For example, external disk drives in a safe.
  • Cloud storage. It is unaffected in the case of a data center failure and in most cases is ready-to-go with a cloud disaster recovery.

Backup software should support all these types of storage.

Storage planning for disaster recovery

For example, CloudBerry Backup allows using both your network resources and enable cloud systems like Amazon Glacier and S3, Google Cloud Storage, Microsoft Azure, etc.

Retention Period Planning

If a single backup is stored and updated every day, a situation can occur when this backup has no necessary data. However, today companies with ever-increasing frequency use the procedure that allows to back up data daily, once a week and once a month.

Usually, corporate backup systems allow specifying any number of stored backup copies. In CloudBerry Backup this option is called Retention Policy and is available in the Backup Plan settings.

Backup retentio

Disaster Recovery Testing

Network failures can result in backup integrity breaking, and the archive will become unreadable. That’s why it is important to verify the integrity of backups as well as reports generated by the backup system.

Besides correct customization of the backup process, you should also test the correctness of stored data recovery. For example, recovery of an old backup copy of one Active Directory domain controller can result in USN Rollback fraught with a complete inoperability of the domain.

To avoid it, one should remember to back up both the system drive and System State, e.g. using an image-level backup job in CloudBerry Backup

By way of another example, one can mention Microsoft Exchange recovery. Since the best part of the configuration is located in the Active Directory, in some cases, recovery of the only one machine using Microsoft Exchange will not bring the desired result.

It is better to check backup recovery in a test environment. CloudBerry Backup allows recovering a backup of a physical machine to a virtual drive (by the way, it can be applied for P2V migration) and Microsoft Azure or Amazon EC2 cloud virtual machines. Then you can continue working with this machine or delete it after checking.

Disaster recovery testing: restoring backup to VM

Disregard to a full-featured backup process can bring deplorable results and the company may bear significant losses. We offer you to download a 15-day fully functional trial version of CloudBerry Backup and see for yourself how effective this solution is. We will be happy to answer all your questions in the comments section below.

Alexander N avatarAuthor
Alexander N
Alexander is the director of marketing at CloudBerry Lab and has been an important member of the company since its inception. He is an expert in IT-marketing and has extensive knowledge of cloud storage services. Alexander cooperates with cloud vendors, MSPs, VAR’s and communicates the market needs and trends to our team. View all posts
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