When Was the Last Time You Checked Your Backup?

Ralph DeFrangesco

In my last post, I noted that I was away on vacation. It's sandy, hot, humid. Did I mention sandy? In keeping with my vacation theme, I met up with an old friend. He is the lead IT person at a small company with fewer than 100 people. Our families spent some time on the beach and as we were taking in the sights, I asked him what he was using for backup software because I was in the market for a small project I was working on. We discussed backup software and strategies for a while, and then I asked him when the last time he tried to restore one was. He said, "it's been a while since we actually had to restore data." After a few drinks, I finally got the answer out of him on the condition that I not mention him or his company. He admitted it was almost a year between testing tapes. He cited time as the factor. I certainly understood his position. It's only him and another junior-level administrator providing support.


My friend is a very senior-level professional who has worked in IT for many years, so I spared him the talk about losing data that I would normally give to people with less experience. However, I have to say that when I was an administrator, testing backups was not an option. We were required to test our tapes every month to see if they could be read, and every three months to see if they could be restored. Tape technology has come a long way, but the media itself is unreliable. Of course, there are other options for backups today, but if tapes are what your company is using, for whatever reason, they've got to be tested.


Now back to my friend: He assured me that he felt comfortable that his backups were fine and could be restored. I told him if I had a margarita for every time someone told me that and it wasn't true, I would not be able to walk back to my condo from the beach -- and my condo is on the beach. So I have to ask again, when was the last time you checked your backup?

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