Online Data Backup Best Practice 4: Test Restore

After a hiatus, we return to our best practices in cloud backup series with a focus on restoring your data. Previous series entries have included the importance of adequate bandwidth, Who is in charge? and remote devices.

We all pay a lot of attention to backup. In a couple of months, there will be plenty of vendor chatter about worldwide backup day. Around New Year, there are vendor reminders to adopt a resolution about good back up practices. After the PC sales surge during back-to-school and Christmas period, the reminders to start backing up our files and folders are a constant drumbeat.

Knowing how to Restore

We don’t pay enough attention to restore. Restore is the pay-off on your backup. You may never need to restore, but you do need to know how to restore, and make sure you know it works before you have to. Have you ever conducted a test restore on even a small part of your data so you know what to do in the unlikely event that you need to restore? Knowing in advance what it will take and how long it will take is the kind of information you should have before the pressure and panic of a local or regional disaster, or something as simple as a drive failure, which happens all the time.

5 Questions to prepare for data Restore

  1. How do you prepare your new (restore) device?
  2. Do you have another laptop or desktop you will be able to use?
  3. How do you restore from your local backup copy?
  4. How long will your restore take?
  5. What can you do to speed up the restore and minimize the disruption to your business or personal activities?

Run a Test Restore to Check your Current Backup Practices

A test restore will help you identify if there are any problems with your current backup practices. Have you checked to make sure that your backup is working? Are you backing up all of the files or folders you need to? If you are backing up to a local device or media, a test restore can help you determine if your devices or media are in good working order.

How frequently you test your restore or how thoroughly depends on your business needs. You should do this at least once a year, and more frequently depending on the types and criticality of data or any customer expectations you have set for ensuring your business continuity.

You may think you and your business are too busy to find the time and conduct a test restore. Don’t worry, if you are unable to restore your data and keep your business going, you’ll have all kinds of free time. But I don’t think that’s what you want.