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Data Management

You Failed Your Disaster Recovery Test! Now What?

Eric Flick
Feb 15, 2017


Picture this: As you make preparations for your test, you decide what you want to test, you gather sample transaction and maintenance activities, and you grab a large capacity, secure USB device, and you start backing up all of data from your various platforms and applications that you’ll need for your test. You do this all at the same time, so that you know everything you need is nice and neat, well-coordinated, and all in one place.

While this all may sound great, and be eerily similar to what you’re doing – there’s a big problem here. Unfortunately each year, I see customers taking action that leads them to that first fatal step during their test that brings into question the likelihood of a successful recovery whenever they have an actual disaster.

Special backups are the first step in failing a DR test. For those of you that might be unfamiliar with that term, a special backup is a process that’s run outside of your normal backup routine so that you can take exactly what you need for your DR test. I can hear some of you saying, “What is the problem with that? If I backup this from here, and that from there, and go over there and get those things as well, I’ve got everything I need on this one secure external USB device.” The problem stems from the fact that by making a special backup to perform your DR test, you haven’t validated that your normal backup routine is backing up everything that it needs to be for a successful recovery.

Financial Institutions are currently using a variety of backup strategies and platforms. While many FIs still use tape once a day, many others are using disk-to-disk backups, mirroring, or near-real-time replication to keep all of their systems or system data in a recoverable state. If you have mission-critical applications running on different platforms, or if you’re using more than one approach to back up your data, the potential exists that the testing of those various platforms and backup methods aren’t being validated in the same way.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. If I have a disaster, is all of the data I need somewhere it can be easily accessed for recovery?
  2. Is all of my data backed up in such a fashion that I already know what I do and don’t have following a disaster?
  3. Do my normal backup practices enable the successful achievement of our Recovery Point Objectives (RPO)?

While special backups might seem convenient and lend themselves to simplifying the DR test, they fall into the same category as using the same password for all of your accounts, so stop it! One of my mentors once said, “Most people don’t come to work with the intention of doing a bad job.” I think most of us would agree with that. We all want to be successful at what we’ve chosen to do. Likewise, I don’t think that most customers want to fail their annual Disaster Recovery (DR) test. Every FI wants to know their systems are recoverable and that in the midst of a disaster data, loss will be as minimal as possible. Take the first step to ensuring the success of your next DR test and eliminate special backups.



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