How To Audit Your Backup

Ben Greiner -

In the world of IT it's common to hear the phrase, "Nobody cares about the backup — they only care about the restore." Well, we care about both!

Hard drive failure (and human error) can strike at any time. Therefore, it's crucial that everyone periodically spend a few minutes reviewing their backup to ensure important data remains safe at all times. A basic backup audit looks like this:

  1. Confirm exactly what data is getting backed up.
  2. Test restoring a sampling of this data.
  3. Make 100% sure everyone on your team knows what is — and is not — part of the backup.
  4. Confirm you have at least three backup destinations with at least one of these destinations offsite.

At Forget Computers we use CrashPlan PROe to monitor the daily status of our client backups. However, a periodic backup audit is also required to ensure the backup really works. This audit absolutely must involve the client because they are the only ones who truly know the data. Below is the process we use to periodically review backups with our clients to ensure their data remains safe.

Confirm What Files Are Part of The Backup

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If a file is never backed up, then it can never be restored when lost.

  1. Open the CrashPlan application on your computer (see image above).
  2. Confirm that the "Files" selected for backup are accurate (see image below, highlighted in red).
  3. Make any file selection changes that are necessary (choose the "Change..." button) and never hesitate to contact us for assistance.

IMPORTANT: ONLY THE FILES SELECTED HERE WILL BE BACKED UP AND AVAILABLE FOR RESTORE. Ask yourself if any critical data is missing from the backup. Are there any special files or folders outside of this backup area that would cause you great stress if they were lost? If so, let us know so we can ensure this data is added to your backup. Data that's often overlooked includes Filemaker or SQL databases and financials on a Windows computer. This type of data may also require special treatment, so once again contact us if you need to make changes.

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Test Restoring a File

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If the restore is broken then the backup is worthless.

  1. Select the Restore tab in CrashPlan then find and select a sample of data to restore. In the screen grab above I've highlighted the Restore tab on the left and selected a folder titled, black-Linen from my Desktop.
  2. Pay attention to where the file or folder will be restored. In my example, highlighted in red above, I'm restoring the most recent version with original permissions to the Desktop and any existing files (with the same name) will be renamed. You can change any of the underlined preferences before selecting Restore.
  3. Test and inspect the restored files by opening them to ensure your backup is working as expected!

Share This Knowledge With Your Office

This is so important, yet it's also so often overlooked by offices of all sizes ... ARE USERS AWARE OF WHAT IS BACKED UP? If users are storing files in locations that are not backed up, then these files can NEVER BE RESTORED when they are lost.

Share this document with everyone in your organization to ensure your team knows where they can — and cannot — safely store files for backup. If you must, confirm for yourself what files are part of the backup on each workstation. This is the task Forget Computers simply cannot perform because there is no way for us to know your data as well as you.

If your office does not currently back up workstations then consider adding workstations to the backup as an extra precaution. Trusting that everyone is storing copies of critical data on the server is a gamble. Ask yourself, when a workstation hard drive fails and only the server is backed up, will you lose important data? If so, notify us so we can start backing up your workstations!

Do You Have An Offsite Backup?

There are several reasons why it's important to have multiple backup destinations in multiple locations. It's impossible for a single destination to always be available without occasional downtime due to maintenance or failure. During this downtime is exactly when trouble will strike, so you need multiple destinations. We recommend at least three copies: two onsite and one offsite. Many of our clients manually rotate backup drives on the schedule of their choosing (daily, weekly, etc.), although the easiest and best method is to automate this process with an office-to-office, office-to-home or office-to-cloud backup destination. Would you be upset if fire, water damage or theft destroyed your entire office — computers and local backup? If so, contact us so we can help establish an offsite copy.

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