September is RESTORE Month

Backup, backup , BACKUP! You hear this every day. Many of you have listened and setup some kind of backup system for your data (good for you!). In the last few months we have had some calls that required a restore of the files. This turned out to be an educational moment for many people including some of the IT techs. Let me tell you the whole story.

We got a call to recover a deleted journal in the accounting system. We said sure and where is the backup of the SQL database files? There was a long pause on the phone then the person said that they had an IT technician set up a whole system backup that ran every night to tape. We asked if they had last night’s tape and was told sure it was already in the drive. So we tried to use the backup package that was installed by the technician to recover the data, but there was a password that we needed to enter to access the recovery section.

No one knew this password except for the technician, who was unreachable by phone. After several hours of waiting the technician called in and we were able to access the recovery section of the software. We were unable to find any version of the database on the tape! The backup software was not able to access the database since it was locked by SQL at the time of the backup so it skipped the database files. So after several hours of waiting the person had to rekey the journal that was deleted.

This call raised several issues that are common with backup software in use today. First is the user did not know how to use the software or knew the password. Second is that no one checked to make sure that data files actually got backed up. Third is that only one person in the entire world (the technician) really knew how the software was configured and if it was working properly. So we want to encourage you all to make September restore month. Please make sure that whatever backup system you use that you do the following:

  • Check to make sure you are backing up the right files.
  • Know how to check if all files are being backed up.
  • Have at least two people know how to restore a file.
  • Restore at least one file a month. (Do not destroy or overwrite any critical data!)
  • Know how to restore files to a different disk location.