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3 Things You Can't Put Off On World Backup Day

A friendly PSA to backup files and test disaster recovery plans

As tends to be the way of things on Reddit, a user shares a casual idea with the community and the next thing you know we have an internationally recognized holiday.

"I propose we have a "Back-Up Day", a day when everyone remembers to check that they have good back-ups of all their treasured data," wrote Reddit user adamjeff. "I just think it would be for the good of everyone to have a reminder to save all your cherished pictures, videos and other important data to somewhere secure. Companies should also get involved, making sure that their customers and their own data is secure and safe. Maybe even the back-up providers could offer discounts and rates based on the date to encourage sales and participation."

And thus, World Backup Day was born. The date, March 31st, was strategically chosen to prepare for any April Fools shenanigans.

[For more on backup and recovery, see Backup Services Require More Than 'Set and Forget'.]

adamjeff, a college student from Ohio named Jadun, quickly purchased the worldbackupday.net domain and set up a Twitter feed @WorldBackupDay. Companies started pouring in with discounts and promotions. Someone created a beautifully addicting World Backup Day game. There's even an official pledge (I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st. I will also tell my friends and family about World Backup Day - friends don't let friends go without a backup.").

The 4th Annual World Backup Day is upon us. Will you be celebrating accordingly?


The worst time to to test your disaster recovery strategy is in the middle of a disaster. In the original Reddit post proposing World Back Up Day, user dontlookatmynameok made an astute comments:

We need a RESTORE Day. I have witnessed the following far too often:
"We have backup, right?" "Yep."
"We have backup, right?" "Yep."
"We have backup, right?" "Yep."
"The drive crashed! Let's restore from the backup!" "Shit, how? We have never done this before!" Which could lead to facepalm moments of "We backed up the wrong stuff!" or "The restore script is broken!"

This sentiment is mirrored by industry veteran Jennifer Walzer, CEO of BUMI (Back Up My Info), a provider of managed online backup, recovery and compliance solutions for mid-sized businesses. "I love the concept but the reality is that it shouldn't be about backup, it should be about recovery. So many companies today think because they have a backup plan they are fine. But with technology growing, a lot of times IT is not checking as diligently to see if its backup is running smoothly, or if they have the resources to bring things back up efficiently. I think it should be World Recovery Day."

BUMI offers three tips for businesses to prepare and test their backup and recovery:

1) Develop a backup and recovery plan: Enlist key company stakeholders to create a formal plan outlining the most critical data sets. Note all the applications and versions of the applications used to backup data. Physical copies of electronic copies should be organized off site in the event of a physical disaster.

2) Determine your RTO (recovery time objective): Each company is different, and RTOs must be tailored accordingly. Even within a single company certain data like email or archived files will come back faster than others. "The best thing to do is come up with a strategy," says Walzer. "Ask departments what elements are most critical. What can wait only a few minutes, what can wait hours or days? That information is necessary for IT to create a solid strategy." In general, the more you say "everything at once" the more expensive it will be, she adds. For example, a firm can say everything needs to be up in 15 minutes, then you need a real time replication in a secondary facility, which can be very costly depending on the firm's infrastructure.

3) Test your plan: Testing your plan is really important, and the biggest problem. "I've been in the industry for 20 years now and I can't get over how many people people say, 'we have a backup plan, we're okay,' but they aren't testing it to make sure what they think they're doing will help them get up and running faster." Scenarios happen, things change, maybe you update an e-mail application or make other seemingly uneventful changes throughout the year, these can really impact how you recover that data. "If you haven't been testing, the worst time to do it is mid-disaster, I can't stress that enough."

According to a survey BUMI conducted of 100 independent IT professionals in Q4 2013, less than half of respondents (44 percent) checked client backups daily for errors, 15 percent checked weekly, 21 percent checked monthly and 8 percent checked annually. An astounding 13 percent never check for client backups for errors at all.

Becca Lipman is Senior Editor for Wall Street & Technology. She writes in-depth news articles with a focus on big data and compliance in the capital markets. She regularly meets with information technology leaders and innovators and writes about cloud computing, datacenters, ... View Full Bio

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