An Experienced Endorsement for Testing Backups
Just because you think that you’re following best practices, doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually are. Take it from this aspiring entrepreneur, who shared his own personal experience with us, so you could benefit:
I used to be a sales manager, taught in the classic, old school approach. Basically, I just got to know my clients really well so I could always talk to them about something. Wishing them a happy birthday, finding out how their youngest did during his baseball game, I had a pretty comprehensive well of topics I could pull from. This let me keep a pretty detailed record of people and their interactions with me that allowed me to really make connections with them.
My dad used to moonlight as a rental property manager on top of his full-time position, and that really inspired me. I slowly saved up my money until I could buy the duplex I lived in, and from there, I was hooked.
That first investment grew into a business that supports my family and my staff. All of the processes of managing properties (things like collecting rent, paying taxes, handling payroll, managing utilities, and maintaining the rental spaces) mean that I rely on logistics quite a bit to accomplish it all.
My dad taught me two things that I have really taken to heart: Measure twice, cut once, and to do as much as I could, and let the experts do what I couldn’t.
The second lesson was really helpful when I was first equipping my rental properties. I like to think my places are pretty nice, so they feature things like quality Wi-Fi connections, smart locks, and other things that need a little bit of management. The commercial properties I have are equipped with even more of these kinds of things. All of this tech needs a lot of horsepower, so to speak, so I have a pretty hefty setup at my main office. I also need my technology to help me keep track of who my tenants are, the documentation they’ve given me and the stuff I have to keep, as well as to manage my employees the way I need to.
Now, I can’t do very much at all with a computer unless it’s something I use it for every day, so I listened to my old man’s advice and called a reputable IT company. They came in, set everything up, and when they recommended a backup system, I approved it. The IT company set everything up, taught my office manager to use it and how files could be restored, and even stopped in a month later to check in.
This was all great, and we went along with our business for a few years after that.
Then, we got slammed from all sides. A few tenants were moving out, there were some maintenance concerns that we were dealing with, it was the middle of tax season, and the office manager who knew how everything worked had just left for a much-deserved cruise with his family.
Of course, it was then that the software we rely on for pretty much everything – internal communication, payroll, and scheduling – it just stopped working, and our data was all messed up.
Nobody could figure out what to do, and I finally had to make the very expensive call to my office manager, who was kind enough to spring for the cruise ship’s cellular service in case something happened. That got us to the backup to restore from it. We had also left a message with the IT company.
It was a good thing we did, too, because when the restore was finished, we were still dealing with bad data. We tried again – same thing.
When we managed to get in touch with the company, they told us that some software change had messed up how data was stored in the backup, so while everything else was fine, that one software just stopped being backed up.
This was important stuff – like, the kind that it would have taken a HUGE amount of work and time to even get back to our normal business functions. Plus, we would still have to go back and ask all of our tenants for their sensitive information again. How would that have looked?
The worst part? We knew about the issue when the software was updated – we just never connected it to our backup.
Somehow, after a lot of stress and a pretty big bill, our data was recovered and we could get back to work. Frankly, while it was a really expensive process, I still look at it as a bargain.
However, with a few better practices, we could have avoided the entire issue. That’s why we’re now sure to test our backup at least once a month. A few hours gives me the peace of mind that my business won’t be thrown in jeopardy again. Basically, we just see if we can operate using only what’s on the backup.
These evaluations have already caught a few additional issues, so we’re already seeing the benefits. Make sure you’re backing up your data, and make sure you’re testing them!
We appreciate having this story to share with you, as it raises an important point. Your network is going to change as time passes, so you need to make sure that it is still working as intended. A secure network hosting an insecure application is effectively no longer a secure network. You can view your backups in the same way.
We test all the backups we maintain in a similar way. After all, if a backup doesn’t deliver what you need, it isn’t going to help you much when you need it.