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backup and recovery testing

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A backup and recovery test is the process of assessing the effectiveness of an organization’s software and methods of replicating data for security and its ability to reliably retrieve that data should the need arise.  

Backup and recovery testing is an essential part of a disaster recovery plan. Backup of mission critical data is generally taken seriously in business. However, it is not uncommon for testing to uncover problems in software or processes that could lead to serious loss of data.

It’s crucial to test disaster recovery and individual file recovery abilities. Without actually testing the backup software and systems thoroughly, you’re making an unwarranted assumption that backup and recovery will work not only during normal operations but when unforeseen events pose challenges. Insufficient testing leaves the organization vulnerable to data loss, downtime and redundancy of effort.

Most large companies test disaster recovery plans yearly as per recommended best practices. Due to possible effects from updates to hardware on the machines to be restored to or the hardware, firmware or software on the backup system, it is important to retest when changes are made.

This was last updated in October 2014

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I recall very well the sickening feeling when a previous company discovered that their backups had not been running for a week, and the main server went down, hard. Needless to say, having to cobble together the past week's worth of work from people's personal machines was an experience I will never forget.
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