Unfortunately, having "book knowledge" (or in this case "blog knowledge") about backups and applying that knowledge faithfully and regularly are not necessarily one and the same. Regardless of how many times you hear it or read it, if you aren't actively protecting your data, YOU SHOULD BE.
Here are a few questions to help you determine whether your data is endangered:
- Is your data backed up?
- How often is your data backed up?
- How often do you test your backups?
- Is your data backed up externally from your server?
- Are your backups in another data center?
- Are your backups in another city?
- Are your backups stored with a different provider?
- Do you have local backups?
- Are your backups backed up?
- How many people in your organization know where your backups are and how to restore them?
- What's the greatest amount of data you might lose in the event of a server crash before your next backup?
- What is the business impact of that data being lost?
- If your server were to crash and the hard drives were unrecoverable, how long would it take you to restore all of your data?
- What is the business impact of your data being lost or inaccessible for the length of time you answered in the last question?
We can all agree that the idea of backups and data protection is a great one, but when it comes to investing in that idea, some folks change their tune. While each of the above questions has a "good" answer when it comes to keeping your data safe, your business might not need "good" answers to all of them for your data to be backed up sufficiently. You should understand the value of your data to your business and invest in its protection accordingly.
For example, a million-dollar business running on a single server will probably value its backups more highly than a hobbyist with a blog she contributes to once every year and a half. The million-dollar business needs more "good" answers than the hobbyist, so the business should invest more in the protection of its data than the hobbyist.
If you haven't taken time to quantify the business impact of losing your primary data (questions 11-14), sit down with a pencil and paper and take time to thoughtfully answer those questions for your business. Are any of those answers surprising to you? Do they make you want to reevaluate your approach to backups or your investment in protecting your data?
The funny thing about backups is that you don't need them until you NEED them, and when you NEED them, you'll usually want to kick yourself if you don't have them.
Don't end up kicking yourself.
P.S. SoftLayer has a ton of amazing backup solutions but in the interested of making this post accessible and sharable, I won't go crazy linking to them throughout the post. The latest product release that got me thinking about this topic was the SoftLayer Object Storage launch, and if you're concerned about your answers to any of the above questions, object storage may be an economical way to easily get some more "good" answers.