Backup management

Network administrators resources for backup management.

The network administrator is responsible for network backups as well as testing backup and disaster recovery processes. This is crucial for recovery from power or hardware failure, data and/or network problems, and physical disasters.

Backup guidelines:
In many ways, backups are the heart of any design of critical systems. Handled properly, they represent the last line of defense against just about any catastrophe. Even if your building or your entire city is wiped out, your business can be restored on other computers from properly generated and protected backup tapes. But there are several "if" conditions that must be satisfied for everything to work out properly and data to be recoverable.

Network administrators task list

Task 1: Design, install and evaluate network

Task 2: Perform and manage regular backups 

Task 3: Provide technical documentation and perform audits 

Task 4: Manage and troubleshoot network

Task 5: Security management and virus prevention  

There are a number of basic backup guidelines. By keeping them in mind as you design your backup environment, you will make the best advantage of your backups, and they will serve you best when you need them:
  1. Mirroring does not replace backups.
  2. The most common use of restores isn't after a catastrophe.
  3. Regularly test your ability to restore.
  4. Keep those tape heads clean.
  5. Beware of dirty tapes.
  6. Pay attention to Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) numbers for tapes.
  7. Tapes decompose over time.
  8. Make two copies of critical tapes.
  9. Make sure you can still read old media.
This information has been excerpted by permission from the book, "Blueprints for High Availability, Second Edition," authored by Evan Marcus and Hal Stern, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Learn more about these nine rules for better backups.

Backup management headaches
The amount of data that companies are producing is growing exponentially. The sheer quantity of data doesn't make it any less important to the company. So every bit needs to be backed up in case of an accidental deletion, a hardware failure or, as we have been reminded recently, an actual disaster. Everyone knows the data needs to be preserved, but how does an network administrator go about doing that without devoting all his time to backup management?

It's definitely an issue that hasn't gone unnoticed among the many backup software companies. Backup software is a multimillion-dollar industry, and wading through the vendor rhetoric can be a challenge in and of itself. Here we take a look at the biggest backup management headaches and challenges for network administrators:

  1. Shrinking backup window.
  2. Inability to force an enterprise-wide centralized backup policy.
  3. Inability to backup desktops and laptops confidently.
  4. Network bandwidth limitations.
  5. Rapidly growing data, and finding a place for it all.
  6. Tape management for recovery.
  7. Restoring quickly.
  8. Difficulty of backing up complex, heterogeneous environments.
  9. Remote management.
  10. Tape security.

Get some solutions for curing your backup management headaches.

Managing network traffic during backups
Backup and verification operations can create significant increases in network traffic. This can lead to reduced performance of your servers and all of the segments of the network involved in the backup. One solution to the problem of course is scheduling backups at a time when network usage is low, like before or after hours. Since this may not always be possible, you can perform backups in smaller incremental steps during normal hours.

Learn more about managing network traffic during backups.

Disaster recovery plan

  1. It is critical that you obtain and maintain senior executive support for disaster recovery (DR).
  2. Determine which senior executive(s) will have overall responsibility for disaster recover and have this person appoint a DR coordinator.
  3. Appoint a disaster recover team leader for each operational unit.
  4. Identify functions, process and systems. Determine critical systems, applications and business processes that must continue through disaster recover.
  5. Prepare impact analysis on interruptions on critical systems.
  6. Review physical security.
  7. Review backup systems and data security.
  8. Review policies on personnel termination and transfer.
  9. Identify systems supporting mission-critical functions.
  10. Identify vulnerabilities (e.g. physical attacks, floods, fire, earthquakes, etc.)
  11. Access probability of system failure or distruption.
  12. Prepare risk and security analysis.
  13. Develop a strategic outline for recovery.
  14. Detail all the steps in your workflow for each critical business function.
  15. Review onsite and offsite backup and recovery procedures.
  16. Select, equip, duplicate and prepare staff for an alternate facility.
  17. Develop recovery plan.
  18. Test the plan. Schedule to update and maintain the plan on a routine basis.

This checklist was created by Doug Chick.

Disaster recovery basics
The lessons from the catastrophe of 9/11 are all too often replayed with every new calamity that comes along. If your company's operations are in any way reliant on data stored on computers, you cannot afford to ignore the basic tenets of disaster recovery preparation. If data is not backed up a sufficient distance out of harm's way, your company may not survive the disaster. At some point, maintaining shareholder value and meeting regulatory criteria will become paramount in the disaster recovery discussion. Use this as a checklist to gauge -- and improve -- the effectiveness of your disaster recovery plan.
This information was excerpted from "Disaster recovery success begins and ends with the basics" by contributor Dennis C. Brewer.

Learn more about disaster recovery.

This was last published in March 2005

Dig Deeper on Campus area network