Backup regularly, Test often!

There is a video circulating around the tech blogs this week posted by YouTube user pixarsuperfan10 and taken from an extra included on the Blu-ray versions of Toy Story 1 & 2.

The story in the video is about how a user account accidentally deleted some critical files that contained mockups and drawings of the Toy Story characters.  Unfortunately, Pixar did not have working backups at the time and had to rely on pure luck that an employee had a backup on their own machine.

This video should serve as a wake-up call to anyone reading this post, whether you’re a sys admin or a business owner.  Protect yourself, your employees and your customers.  Make sure you have a working backup system, monitor it often and test the backups regularly.  Bad backups are as good as no backups.

Here are some tips for backing up important data:

  1. Put together a system that you can use across all of your systems and is easy for you to manage.
  2. Run the backup process manually and test the backup to make sure it works.
  3. Check your backup after it runs automatically for the first time.
  4. Have your system alert you when a backup fails or there is a problem during backup.
  5. Check up on your backups regularly.  Make sure everything is running as it should.
  6. Schedule a recurring time to test the backups.  It is very easy these days with technologies like virtualization to test backups.
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