When the call comes in that there was an explosion in the building is not the time to ask “is all of our data backed up?” This just happened and reinforces my methodology of testing backups on a routine basis.

If you are backing up your data but not testing the backups by restoring data, volumes or virtual machines, then no, you cannot say you have a working backup. It’s the same as having batteries in the flashlight only to find a pool of acid in the handle when you open it after the lights have gone out from the batteries leaking.

Depending on your volume, at a minimum of once a month, you should restore from multiple points to test your backups. If your backup system supports multiple delta-points, pick the oldest you can find and restore those.

  • Restore entire virtual machines into your lab and fire them up to make sure they work.
  • Restore Exchange databases to your lab and make sure Exchange Server can mount them.
  • Restore SQL databases to make sure the account credentials were also stored so you don’t have to reassign logins.

In short, backup, backup, backup and then restore or don’t be surprised if you get a pool of acid in the flashlight handle when the lights go out.

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