February 15, 2021

Backup Testing: Why Are Backups Important?

Security & Compliance
Version Control

There is a phrase — you’re only as good as your last backup. But only way to ensure you even have a last backup, is with backup testing.

Because in today’s connected world, catastrophic events can happen. Your backup is the one thing that can make sure that you recover. But how long would it take? If you had a service outage, where would you begin?

Regular backups and a well-tested disaster recovery strategy are vital to answer these questions, protect your valuable IP, and ensure business continuity.

Why Are Backups Important?

It may surprise you to know that despite the risks, 1 in 5 companies don’t have a disaster recovery plan. Most of them are small to medium-size companies. Even if they do have a plan, backup testing is often not seen as valuable. This results in over 60% of backups being incomplete and over 50% of restores failing.

Backups are important because they make sure that when something goes wrong — cyber-attack, human error, a natural disaster, or more — that you can get up and running, fast. Every minute that you are offline could have larger unseen impacts, including delayed releases and upset customers. Start by asking yourself…

When was the last time you backed up? More importantly, when was the last time you tested a backup?

Backup Testing Procedure — What You Need to Consider

Let’s review what you need to think about when creating your backup testing plan.

Backup Testing: What to Test

It’s a misconception that you need to test every backup. For large enterprises, this is not possible. And for smaller organizations, it is not always cost effective. You need to prioritize your backups. Think about…

  • What data, systems, and applications are most used within your organization?
  • If everything went down, what components do users need access to in the next minute, hour, day, etc.?
  • How are your workloads interdependent? What system needs to be recovered first?

When figuring out what to test, consider your entire IT environment, not just some digital assets. You should also test full and partial restores. Full restores will be more disruptive. But this can help you get an idea of how long you could be down in a major emergency.

Backup Testing: When to Test

The goal for your backup testing plan should be to validate your applications and your data integrity. This needs to happen on a regular testing schedule. Annual is not enough. Consider…

  • What is mission-critical for your business?
  • Are your backups automated? Do you have resources to make this happen (writing scripts)?
  • Do certain areas of the organization use the same applications, services, and systems? You may have redundant backups, which can be helpful in case one fails.

Some people thinking backup of an entire system or virtual machine can be sufficient. But backups need to be application specific. So if the hardware is lost, the application can be put onto a new machine or operating system. So, when you ask yourself these questions, consider your entire environment.

For example, if you’re making a game, you need to back up your game engine as well as the digital assets involved in your project. This can significantly shorten your downtime.

Backup Testing: Recovery Consistency

Once you have determined what you are testing, and how often, you need to make sure you can actually restore if something happens.

For example, if you need to recover large volumes of digital assets or restore over a WAN and LAN (if using the cloud), there can be major delays. These tests can help you understand the mean time to recover, and how much is it going to cost while developers are waiting.

Testing exposes weaknesses in your disaster recovery plan. Understanding the total cost of recovery gives you realistic metrics on how long you could be down. Now you can focus on recovery consistency across applications. With practice, these tests should become increasingly reliable.

Backup Testing with the Right Version Control

When it comes to your infrastructure, there is a lot consider. Your version control system holds your company’s intellectual property. What is the cost if you cannot recover it? For 43% of companieswith no data recovery and business continuity plan, the cost is too great. They end up going out of business following a major data loss.

For those who have a vested interest in security, many choose Perforce Helix Core version control. Why?

Using Helix Core creates a single source of truth across your enterprise. Having everything in one place makes backups easier. You don’t have to track down data in a bunch of repos. And for users working remotely, if their laptop goes down, the data isn’t lost. This architecture is designed to record the history of changes of millions of files accurately for high availability.

High Availability Makes Backups Easier

in the event you need to perform a recovery from your backup, backup testing is only one component. Security and high availability can help prevent the need to restore and should be part of your plan.

With Helix Core, companies get strong security-built in. You can enforce restrictions for traffic and content movement beyond what can be done by firewalls and ACLs. This protection extends to your topology. Perforce federated architecture can be installed around the globe — so you don’t have to sacrifice performance for scale.

Security

Limiting access to data by user and IP address is important. This can help reduce the likelihood bad actors get access to your entire system. Helix Core offers granular permissions down to the individual file. Helix Core also supports multifactor authentication with your preferred identity provider. This works across clients including Helix Command-line Client (p4)Helix Visual Client (p4v)Helix Swarm, and Helix Core plugins and integrations

Automated Failover

When servers go down, you’ll need enough time to react. Helix Core can help. With built-in failover functionality, you can monitor the status of current and backup servers.

If you need to failover, and it does not succeed for any reason, any information (journalcopy, pull threads) that was stopped will be automatically restarted. Helix Core will display details about the source and target of the failover process. You get confidence in your backup without having to write custom scripts for your process.

Your Strategy For Backup Testing

Ultimately, it is critical to balance security, usability, and the needs of your products when deciding how to perform backup testing.

What and how you test will depend on the amount of sensitive data you have to protect, the size of your team, and importance to eliminate downtime. Helix Core can help.

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