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With World Backup Day on March 31, it’s the optimal time for channel partners to talk to customers about their backup systems and how to test them to mitigate potential data loss risks.

Dave Maffei, vice president of global channel sales at cloud backup specialist Carbonite, offered his insights on backup tests that channel partners can recommend to their customers.

Spot-Checking File System Backups

Customers backing up file systems in Mac, PC or server hard drives have the ability to recover lost files. Maffei recommends that they should follow these “test” steps:

  • Select several valuable files that have been recently added or changed in the file system being backed up. Assume these files were accidentally deleted and test to see if they can be restored.
  • Create a temporary folder called “test-restore” and use the backup software to locate the files in the backup system.
  • Restore the files to the “test-restore” folder and compare the restored files to the originals.

Repeat the process a few times with a random sampling of files, said Maffei. “If they’re able to recover the files each time, they can reasonably assume that all files are being backed up correctly.”

Testing a Full File System Restore

This test applies to customers with file systems found in Mac, PC or server hard drives. To ensure that customers will be able to recover from a total loss, follow these steps for worst-case scenarios.

  • Make sure the customer has enough free disk space to recover all files in the backup. They can use a spare computer or server with sufficient free space for the recovery.
  • The customer can complete the full system restore on the same server or hard drive if there is enough space or use the backup system to restore the files to the spare computer. After file restore, run another random sampling of files to make sure they were restored properly. “Just be careful not to overwrite existing files,” said Maffei.

Another way to confirm that a full system restore test was successful is to compare the total storage utilization of the files restored to the original source of the files. “The numbers may not match up exactly because of normal changes that have occurred since the last time the system was backed up,” said Maffei.

Database Recovery and Verification

Customers need a place to restore the data that won’t interfere with the original database, and the server used to restore the data needs to have the database management system software already installed.

If a spare machine is not available, it is possible to recover a database to the same machine that houses the production database if it has enough space, said Maffei. Caveat: Use a different name for the restored database so the customer doesn’t overwrite a real database or interfere with the production use of that database. Or run the test by restoring the data to a virtual machine in the cloud.

Once a customer has restored its database to the chosen location, they can run three tests for verification: spot check, macro test, and applications test, Maffei advised.

Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributor, focuses on technology and the channel.