Why We Need Backups First

One of the things I show when I talk about TDE is that the backup of the certificate is very important. When you create a certificate, SQL Server warns you right away that a backup of the certificate is needed. Following Murphy’s Law, if you continue on with enabling TDE, right after the encryption is completed, your master database will become corrupt and you won’t be able to get to your data. It just takes a few seconds, so back up your certificates.
I was reminded of this while reading a short piece on some police body camera footage being lost. I don’t want to focus on the police actions or cameras or anything but this statement: ” A backup system had been purchased but hadn’t been set up. “
That’s a fairly egregious breach of duty for some IT personnel in this case. The system was installed in 2009, and this event apparently occurred during a software upgrade in 2012. While I understand a backup system might not get configured immediately, I think 3 years stretches the limit of an acceptable delay. However, even if the backup system were not in place at the time of the software upgrade, wouldn’t a backup before upgrade be required? Isn’t that a standard practice?
There have been other reports of similar issues, which is disconcerting. It appears the use of technology for archival of data isn’t well developed, or properly understood by the IT staff in charge of the process. Of course, this happens in plenty of enterprises and other organizations where IT staff seem to think that backups are important in and of themselves. In case you’re confused, they are not. Restores are the important things to have, which means you must verify your backup process allows the data to be retrieved.
Many of us have scripted methods that practice this regularly, refreshing other environments, restoring databases for DBCC, or some other task. Few of us actually practice this ourselves across all databases on a regular basis, ensuring our skills for tail log backups, NORECOVERY and STANDBY restores are fresh and ready for emergencies. However, we should not take this task lightly. It is important that we are able to recover data in almost all situations.
If we can’t do that, then we are truly disregarding our duty as the custodians of data.
Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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