5 Reasons Backups Fail and how to Fix Them

Data Backup

No one enjoys failure in any aspect of life, but especially when it comes to things going haywire in the IT world.  With respect to an IT failure, one small mishap could be detrimental to the life and vitality of a company.  Surprisingly, failures are not uncommon, making potential data loss and additional expenses an everyday possibility for many departments.  If you are wondering how to reduce the chances of failure, then read on!  In this article, we will discuss the top 5 factors that are the main contributors of failure in a backup environment as well as what you can do to fix these issues.  This information is here to serve as a guide, and not necessarily as guarantee for continual success.  Sometimes, you can do all the right things, and failure still happens.  However, in understanding the main factors that lead to failure, you will be well on your way to creating a strong backup environment.

Factor 1:  Monitoring is Not Working As it Should!
Did you know that monitoring systems were initially set up to manage much small spheres than is required of them today?  Technology seems to be growing at the speed of light, and with that growth has come a lot more information and many more servers to be monitored.  If a failure occurs in this type of atmosphere, it is extremely difficult to actually locate and then unravel the failure.  The problem is, these systems are unfit to handle such a heavy load.  The best way to fix this problem is to implement a monitoring system that is capable of functioning automatically.  The system must also be able to offer a comprehensive picture of the state of the whole backup environment and show each server and client name for verification purposes. It would likewise be ideal if this system was developed in such a way that it could successfully monitor  servers with different vendors and diverse backup software.

Factor 2:  Alerts are Not Being Received!
It is no shock that things in life change and in the IT world, that includes things such as staff, servers, applications, and more.  You would think an email alert would be a great way to get information to the right person, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.  Alerts are being missed.  However, if best practices are in order, this should not be happening!  The way to navigate the waters of missed alerts is to implement a real-time system which would send alerts by email, SNMP integration, and SMS.  With this system, you can be sure the right people would get right information quickly and correctly.

Factor 3:  Preference of Command Line Driven Operation is Creating Issues
Many administrators choose this interface because they are familiar with it and because they can utilize it in order to finish a task in a swift manner.  The problem is, the command line driven operation is much more vulnerable to errors.  The reason for this is because it allows for very little consistency in the backup sphere, especially when many different administrators are using it.  Another truth to its vulnerability is that fact that best practices simply fail to be enforced here, which causes problems.  In order to avoid failures, the best solution in this regard is to use an interface which allows for GUI operation of backup processes.  This would grant a huge reduction in errors and would allow administrators to successfully repeat an operation.

Factor 4:  There is a Lack of Time Spent on Reading Reports and Planning
Though there is nothing more tempting than spending all of your time on the report that sends an alert, don’t fall into this trap!  The truth is, you cannot fail to give the proper time and attention to the other reports, and you must remember that the alert is simply one piece of the big picture.  Keep in mind that the primary backup drive doesn’t keep data around for very long.  If you fail to look at it in a timely fashion, you may miss it all together as it will soon become inaccessible!  The solution here is to put the data from the primary and backup servers in designated databases, and in doing so, daily operations will run more smoothly.  If you are diligent in this regard, you will have access to view and analyze the data later on.

Factor 5:  Misconfiguration Happens!
When a misconfiguration occurs, you know for sure there are problems in your backup environment.  Most of the time, they are a result of an overabundance of both data and servers.  Below, you will see some situations than can result in misconfiguration.

Inaccurately sized recovery logs:
When this occurs, information can easily get lost.  The reason for this is because the data can’t be recorded when the logs are sized incorrectly.  In order to correct the situation, you must enlarge the log manually and restart it.

Disk to tape doesn’t transfer well:
With a small disk pool comes the potential for the rejection of data.  When this occurs, backups are delayed and backup windows are missed.  It is also prudent to remember that when transferring information from disk to tape, sometimes tape can’t keep up the pace, resulting in a disk pool that is unable to get backup data.

Running many backup sessions simultaneously:
The reality of this rapid growth era we live in often results in having an overabundance of clients and an oversupply of backup systems.  This ultimately leads to missed backup windows.  What is needed to remedy this problem is a bigger monitoring system.  In incorporating something larger, it will be easier for administrators to comprehend their spheres.  Likewise, in pairing an adequate monitoring system with the proper backup program, IT departments will be well on their way to efficiently managing their spheres.

Is Successful Backup Management an Art to Be Mastered or a Science to Be Learned?
This is the question many are asking these days.  People want to know if efficient management will come with time or if they must put in more hours learning the science behind it.  At the end of the day, successful backup management is a matter of both art and science.  Administrators must school themselves on the science behind trends, reports, and monitoring.  However, the authentic art of management is something that can only be passed down through generations and refined over time.  Administrators must remember these facts when they are tempted to be discouraged over failure.  This special craft of backup management is a recipe that perfectly combines both the arts and the sciences.

Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software’s Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions. He is an experienced high-tech marketing professional, MBA, Six Sigma Certified, plus international experiences in Asia-Pacific region.  Learn more about Rocket Servergraph.