4 Common Myths Concerning Backup, Restore, and DR

The ever-changing IT world has given way to some pretty intense urban legends in recent days. It is important to know what is true and what is false within this sphere, so organisations can make educated decisions regarding all things having to do with their backup and recovery plans. Below you will see what is true and what is legend, so you will be equipped to manage the environment within your data protection plan.

Common Myth 1:  Most backups from tape fail when it comes time to restore

This myth keeps on being recycled, but the funny thing is, there is no actual reference to it whenever it is quoted on a website. The explanation? Information such as this is likely old and should have been thrown out long ago. Another explanation is that it could have been perpetuated due to being misquoted over time. Misquoting facts when it comes to the IT world sometimes happens, and if you remember the classic game of telephone, you will understand why!

What is True? The good news is that the majority of businesses do have a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan. And of those that have a plan, over half actually test it 2 times per year. This is all well and good, but there is still a percentage of the business world that does not have a plan and that aren’t testing appropriately. Disasters commonly cause a 24-hour recovery time, so companies must have a comprehensive view of the whole backup and recovery environment to avoid complete and total disaster.

Common Myth 2:  Typically, companies file for bankruptcy following a disaster if there is a 10-day recovery period

This perpetuated myth keeps going around various circles, and in fact is often claimed to be on the National Archives and Records Administration website. The problem is, this myth cannot be found on that particular site at all, and is old information that should have been purged, or again, been sorely misquoted.

What is True?  

It is encouraging that the practices regarding IT Disaster Recovery have been extensively tracked and studied in recent years. In these studies, researchers have found that 1 in 3 enterprises have experienced disaster in the last 5 years, while a small number have never declared disaster. Even though the above myth is not true, it doesn’t change the fact that disaster costs companies a significant amount, maybe not enough to close the doors of the company, but enough to shock all in involved with the expense.

Common Myth 3:  Disk is more reliable than tape…and tapes fails more often

Most CIOs and managers of IT departments genuinely believe this, mostly because of their previous training and experience using the tape drives systems. In reality, the debate is much more complicated and ultimately is subjective based off the purpose and value of the what data is being protected.

What is true? Various studies show that both tape and disk are very dependable. Data actually proves to some degree that TAPE can be more reliable than disk in certain instances. When tapes fail, only a slight amount is lost, but when a hard drives fails, it loses an entire sector. Keep in mind that the data found must be taken in its appropriate context, of what was actually researched. The above point must not be used to generalize or used globally, or another myth may be in rotation. Why one might choose tape over disk is mostly a preferential decision, however, it may also be due to the desire to keep costs down depending on what is being backed up. For small environments, tape is less expensive, whereas for larger spheres, disk is a better choice. It is good to remember that both are more reliable than ever before due to advanced technology. However, it is prudent to also keep in mind that all devices are subject to failure, so an effective backup and recovery plan must be created.

Common Myth 4: Approximately 1/3 of business do not test their tape backups

What is true? Those that are selling various products generally use this myth to help drive business. They usually combine it with other myths, such as the proposed high failure rate of tape restores. Other mythical sentences used include:

-Most experience tape backup failure with respect to the restore process

-Almost half of recoveries attempted from tape have failed in the last year alone

-Half of the time, restoring from tape will fail

-Over half of restores fail

-The majority of restores fail

What is true? Unfortunately, none of these claims can be backed up by any original source. They simply keep getting repeated in various articles, and unfortunately, some use them to drive business by putting them into proposals in order to gain funding for new backup and DR projects. These claims must be challenged, and departments must be well-versed in deciphering truth versus myth so they can make well-informed purchases.

Every IT administrator knows that backups and restores do and will fail occasionally. Software tools must be used that allow businesses to gain a comprehensive view of the entire backup environment.  This way, administrators will be able to focus on the true areas of concern.

In order to get the support needed for project funding, true data can be looked at that is quite compelling towards the need for preparedness when it comes to a backup and recovery plan.  Research shows that very few companies are very prepared.  In fact, numbers are down from years past with respect to how prepared businesses view themselves.  What is the reason for this?  In reality, it is more and more challenging to be covered for disaster because threats stem from so many various avenues. Problems can come from areas as diverse as natural causes to changing regulations and advanced technology. The bottom line is this:  it is essential to have many backup copies of your company’s data, and you must be able to restore that data in an appropriate amount of time in the event of a disaster.

Author Bio: Mike Johnson is a Technical Writer on topics like data protection, backup monitoring and reporting software.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Management degree from DeVry University.