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Back up success dos and don'ts

A network administrator gave searchWindowsManageability the lowdown on how to make sure your back up policy actually works.

Back up is like a parachute, said George Adamo. "It's something people would like to ignore until they really need it." Adamo used his figurative parachute recently, repairing his network after a Nimda virus attack. A network administrator for Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, CT, he manages 850 workstations and 30 servers running Windows NT/2000, NetWare and Unix. Sharing lessons learned in recovering his wounded network's data, Adamo offers these tips for creating a back up friendly network.

Don't make planning to protect your resources an afterthought.

Do create a realistic, long-term budget for systems needed to protect your data. It's a fact of life that your network will outgrow its current back up system eventually. If supervisors balk at the price, remind them that, when disaster strikes, back up pays for itself, Adamo said.

Don't let any network user forget that data needs to be backed up!

Do a trial back up and restore every month. This will ensure that the software is always working.

Do simulate worst scenarios in backup tests. Frequent trial runs of stressful situations will help your IT personnel become confident using the software, enabling them to act without hesitation when trouble occurs. So, you won't be practicing your back up policy for the first time in the midst of a disaster, said Adamo.

Do follow through, checking and double-checking to make sure your trial back up was successful and that data was restored correctly.

Do audit your restores. Did your data come back the way you wanted it to?

Do check out your database. Adamo advised asking yourself: "How good is it? How fast is it retrieving data? What data is it tracking?"

Don't wait until disaster strikes to implement these tips. Just as a holey parachute won't let you land safely, an untested back up plan won't ensure a successful recovery.


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