11-04-14 | Blog Post

Are the odds of data recovery ever in your favor?

Blog Posts

Way back in 2011 — when Prince William was getting married and Jennifer Lawrence was just getting cast as Katniss in the Hunger Games — Gartner predicted that 30 percent of midsize companies would have adopted recovery-as-a-service (RaaS) to support IT operations recovery by today. That projection was a 29-percent increase based on 2011 numbers.

So what has your business been doing since 2011? If you’ve managed to get your data offsite — and ensure its security in the backup environment — you’ve accomplished a key part of protecting your business in case of a disaster.

The tricky part comes when the disaster actually occurs, and you are forced to recover the data. Depending on your choice of backup, your odds for recovery can vary widely.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of recovery confidence? Are you the picture of confidence, or the grim realization that you’ve just stepped into an uncertain, unfriendly challenge?

A few key choices can improve your odds of recovering systems under duress of having your production environment down.

1. Do the hard planning work … Now

If you haven’t already assessed the critical systems of the business and prioritized which must be recovered first, start here. If it takes you four hours to recover critical revenue systems and 4 days to recover non-critical archives, you know where to start. The problem is, in a state of panic, humans don’t always make great decisions, but we can follow a plan. Get it in writing and understood by the people who will be on the front lines of the recovery effort. Many great resources exist such as www.ready.gov.

2. Choose a reliable restoration backup technology

It’s no secret that tape backups are notoriously miserable at being able to recover, with failure rates between 44% and 77%, depending on what source and study you read. Regardless, evenly optimistically going with the 44% failure rate, that means it’s the equivalent of flipping a coin if you recover your backup data from a tape. This is not protecting your business.

Many organizations are moving away from tape backup to higher fidelity digital formats. Some technologies go so far as to validate the backup files immediately after the backup is made by virtue of a hash validation. This is a basically a very long number, or hash tag, that is generated based on the contents of a file. If the hash tag values are equal, then you know nothing in the file changed. If they differ, the flawed file can be immediately flagged for a follow up back up copy. Basically, you know today if your data is recoverable tomorrow.

3. Test!

The reality is, if you do not test your recovery, you will fail. Plain and simple, we’ve seen that our clients that go through the recommended annual testing are able to recover their systems without a hitch. Clients that do not exercise annual recovery testing inevitably run into unforeseen issues related to ongoing changes in their production environment. It’s just not as easy as copy-and-paste. There are many complexities that networks, VPNs, patches, and myriad other factors can add to recovering your systems. You simply won’t know what you don’t know until you go through the actual effort of recovering your data.

If you want a real test, do it as a surprise for your team, so that you can see where the breakdowns happen in the processes of recovery. Just as much as the technology, it’s the processes that confound recovery efforts.

4. Find a recovery partner

Hopefully, your need to recover data will be rare. When you do, recovering your critical systems in the middle of a disaster is like running at full speed through the forest — at night. If you have someone who has been there before and can light the obstacles in your path and help you navigate them, your odds of getting through unscathed are much better than going blind with no experience or light to guide you.

May your recovery odds be ever in your favor.


Looking for more information about backup and recovery? Check out our free educational webinar, Transforming Your Offsite Backup Into A Real Recovery Option, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

The session will be led by Steven Aiello, a technical architect with consulting firm Ahead and a former senior product architect at Online Tech. More information and a link to registration is available here.


White paper: Disaster Recovery

Offsite backup and recovery: Understanding the hidden costs

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3 questions your CIO needs to answer to set your offsite backup strategy

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