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Disaster recovery guidelines

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

"The cornerstone of disaster recovery is backup," said Mark Silverman, CEO of the storage software company Bocada, Inc. Data certainly can't be recovered if it's not backed up, he said. So, how can IT managers master backup, then? Silverman and Legato Systems' vice president of product management and development, George Symons, gave searchWindowsManageability the top tips to help ensure foolproof backups and, in turn, successful disaster recovery.

Do understand your exposure, Silverman said. This will help with identifying which backups are failing and which are succeeding.

Do know your storage utilization. Buying extra disks and hardware will only add to the confusion if you don't know what you're using and what you have already, Symons advised.

Do find out exactly why backups are failing by using a diagnosis product or tool. Then, Silverman said, "take where you can as much corrective action as quickly as possible to fix those problems so you can increase the reliability of your systems."

Don't just assume a backup was successful even if a backup and restore procedure was previously successful. Environments are always changing and new challenges arise each day. "Networks can become clogged, computers can be added and removed from the network, and files can become corrupt," said Silverman. So, watch out.

Do have enough people to maintain the storage resources you have, said Symons.

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Don't assume all computers have been identified and properly registered with your backup servers. Often when computers are added to the network, they are not assigned a backup server. Those computers, then, have never been backed up, Silverman said, "sometimes for years."

Do regularly audit your storage resources and anything you want to be protected. "Otherwise, you can't know how much of your data at any point in time is going to be recoverable until after the disaster has occurred, which is too late," said Silverman.

Do understand what the messages sent by your backup software mean. A "backup successfully completed" message may not mean a backup was successful, Silverman said. "Often times this message will simply indicate that the backup software has run its course, but it does not mean that no errors have occurred." A full tape drive, for example, could be a barrier to a backup completion.

Do backup your application along with backing up your data, Symons concluded.

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