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Backup and Disaster Recovery Systems Testing. An Essential Consideration

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test.pngIT budgets are often one of the first to face cut-backs and when under pressure, something has to give. For many, the processes of reviewing and testing of the data backup and disaster recovery solution is one of the first to go.

A representative of Gasshouse Technologies, speaking at last year’s Data Centre World exhibit, stated that “Testing DR is often over looked, but it is a key issue…. DR is a business issue, not an IT issue.” A backup and disaster recovery solution is an organisation wide insurance policy – ensuring that in the event of an undesirable incident, organisational data is protected and can be restored as quickly as possible.

While no one dreams of the day they get to put the disaster recovery system into action, its failure to restore organisational data, systems and processes is what nightmares are made of. Lost data and organisational down-time can and will result in regulatory investigations, lost business and damage the brand reputation.

With routine and frequent testing of the entire backup and recovery process and technologies, the benefit of early warning signs are paramount in highlighting the areas that are not adequately prepared to prevent data loss and disaster aversion. With highly trained staff and a series of checks in place, it becomes possible to ensure that your insurance policy is ready to be rolled out at a moment’s notice. 

While backup and diaster recovery testing procedures will undoubtedly vary from organisation to organisation, there are certain key areas that remain constant. Ideally, a testing procedure should aim to perform a complete restoration, making sure that the systems in place effectively targeted and captured the desired data, backing it up successfully. With the backup complete, the testing procedures should also be able to demonstrate a successful restoration, achieved in a desirable window of time.

Key Testing Areas to Consider:

Simulated scenario tests – Many, different things can constitute a disaster. Hardware fail, software corruption, human error, malicious intent, natural disaster…. The list can go on. Understanding how likely each of these are to occur and conducting simulated tests is one of the most important steps in ensuring your data will be protected in all eventualities. A continuous re-evaluation of all possible scenarios is an essentail step in the backup and disaster recovery testing strategy.  

Frequency & Quality of Testing – Regular testing is the only way to be completely sure that your data is protected. For some industries, these features are governed by legal or compliance requirements. For other organisations, testing occurs on a more ad hoc basis or not at all.  While regular testing is an important feature, the quality of these test should also be given due consideration. Consistency in the quality of tests is essential in maintaing comparable results that can be accurately relied on in the event of a disaster.

Change in the IT Environment – Change is unavoidable, and unplanned changes are extremely common; knowing the impact of these is essential. It is important to know that your backup and disaster recovery solution can perform successfully with each change in your IT environment. With a holistic understanding of your entire IT landscape, you can begin to map out the potential impact of change,  which will mean the requirement of additional systems testing.  In addition to this, it is important to be mindful that not all changes go quite to plan; sometimes an unexpected restoration is needed.


With organisations investing substantial amounts in the backup and disaster recovery solutions, stretching the budget to include some additional spend for continuous review and testing can be an essential step in protecting your data. It is all too easy for a system to be installed and left to its own devices; its failure at a critical moment the only indication that something wasn’t quite right.

Backup Systems offer a fully managed backup and disaster recovery solution. With this service, we not only take care of the day to day running and maintenance of your solution, but also the management and testing of your backup and disaster recovery process.


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Topics: Disaster Recovery, Backup Strategy