Backup and Restore

Rainbow Six

The team at Rainbow Six has to be prepared for a disaster anytime.

Today’s editorial was originally published on May 13, 2007. It is being re-run as Steve is at SQL Server Connections.

I think that it’s important to practice restoring and rebuilding your systems. You never know when you’ll encounter problems and need to restore your data onto another piece of hardware. It’s definitely something that people don’t often practice and with documentation not usually being up to par, it’s something that people should be comfortable with performing.

I saw this article for CIOs that seemed to suggest that IT people aren’t testing their systems enough. The statistic in the article was that 89% only test once a year. Also that 67% were only minimally confident that their disaster recovery system would work as planned.

I think it’s pretty good that 89% test their systems. I’m guessing that 11% do it more than once a year, but I’d be concerned if 89% hadn’t tested it at all! I think once a year is a pretty good plan given the hectic scheduled, heavy workloads, and the lack of buy-in by many executives for a DR plan. It’s not like we’re the guys from Rain bow Six that could be called on multiple times to perform this year. In all likelihood most of us will never encounter a disaster in our careers.

And if you do, it won’t go as planned. I’ve had disasters and disaster tests in my career and none of them goes as planned. It’s like I’ve seen quoted: “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” We could easily paraphrase this for IT and note that no DR plan will every survive a disaster. You need people that can adapt, think in the heat of the moment, and get things working when the plan doesn’t cover every contingency.

As DBAs I think most of us tend to practice the DR stuff on a more regular basis as part of our jobs. Many of us are constantly restoring databases for QA and development, getting practice that sysadmins don’t usually get. We also have the advantage of being separated from the hardware and we can install SQL Server and restore databases on any Windows server host.

I think you should practice your DR skills in little bits. Maybe grab the tail of the log and do a point in time restore for your next QA cycle. But practicing a full plan more than once a year isn’t practical for most of us.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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