Custom Application Development

Dec 4 2008   3:03PM GMT

Backup, Backup, Backup

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

There is no end to the need for backup(s).  I’ve been chided on numerous occasions for always taking the safe route — which basically in my book is don’t change ANYTHING without being sure you have a backup.  Backups take time — but it is time well worth taking!  Especially if you have to make a change in the middle of a workday — being safe is the only way to go in my opinion.

So, by now you are probably figuring that I had an “incident” to spark my flurry of writing on of all things — backup!  If you guessed that, you would be 100% correct!  By once again being what some have called “over cautious” about ensuring up-to-date backup I have been able to rescue a customer from disaster.  Their nightly backup was “old”, and rather than take any chance with “something” going wrong, I insisted in making a backup of their critical data before doing what “should” have been a “safe” maintenance function.

Well, the “safe” maintenance function failed — for reasons unknown!  (…aren’t they always?”).  However, the fact that the maintenance function failed was not apparent — in fact it looked like all was back to “normal”, mission accomplished — until the next day when a user went to run a report and the requested data was “missing”.  Further investigation revealed that the table was in fact missing some 60,000 records — a disaster for this client!

Fortunately, because I took the “safe” route, I was able to recover the missing records and combine them with the “new” records added during the 24 hours that it was thought all was back to normal.  End result — apparently no data lost.  Moral of this true story — backup, backup, backup!

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  • Csyoung
    I agree 100% with your comments. Backups are a form of insurance and like most insurance in this world if you don't have it you will probably wish you had at some point (and generally sooner than you would have liked). Your point about them being a pain is equally valid. The fact is that few people really want to take the time to do backups and to make sure they are working properly. They prefer instead to try and rationalize their lack of a formalize backup strategy on the basis that a problem hasn't happened yet and so it is unlikely that it will happen. That is a very wrong way of thinking about things because you are statistically more likely to run into a problem the longer you have gone without one. But, for those that simply do not want to deal with all of the issues that backups can bring, particularly when involving tape, there are a wide range of solutions available to simplify the process. CDP (Continuous Data Protection), for example, offers (notionally) the ability to employ a "set it and forget it" strategy. It does come with a hefty price tag most of the times but from an ease of use perspective it is hard to see how this can be beat. Disk mirroring might be another approach but, again, costs are typically high. For a less automated but often more problem approach there are also Virtual Tape Libraries - some of which actually integrate tape such a [A href="http://www.greshamstorage.com"]Clareti Storage Director[/A] by Gresham Storage, [A href="http://ts.fujitsu.com/"]CentricStor[/A] by Fujistu and various [A href="http://www.falconstor.com"]FalconStor[/A] incarnations, and others that simply make disk look like tape. In all cases, these VTL systems take away the mechnical issues of tape library and drive management in the backup process and often accelerate the backup too. The result is a simpler way of getting backups done with a lot less pain. Regardless of what strategy is employed, having a backup strategy is essential to ensure that when problems do occur (and, unfortunately, they will) you can recover and get back to work!
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