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Who in your company is responsible for database backups?

It’s Me

Fantastic! Check your backup job. Did it run successfully the last time it was supposed to? Are the files where they are supposed to be? Have you checked the integrity of the backup files by restoring them to a secondary server? If you are in full recovery mode, are you taking both data and log file backups?

One of these Storm Troopers is the guilty party.

It’s Someone Else

Great! Who? I’d like you to walk over to that person’s desk or call them, and ask them the questions listed above. Do they know the backups ran? Do they know where they are stored? Have they tested them?

You’re going to sound like you’re questioning their ability to do their job. You’re going to sound paranoid. You’re going to sound suspicious. Good. You should. This is a task that should regularly be reviewed and challenged, to make sure the processes in place are optimal for your current environment and business needs.

I Don’t Know

If this is your answer, now is the time to panic. The business’s data is the business. A task as important as backups should not be left to chance. This should be a well-documented process with everyone knowing which department or person the responsibility falls to.

If you do a bit of research and find out that backups aren’t being taken, or the job has been failing, or you’re running out of space on servers, consider this an opportunity – not a problem. You get to put on your superdatabasehero cape. Determine which backups need to be taken, and when. Come up with a plan. Present it to your boss. Execute the backups. Monitor the jobs. Restore the databases. Document your process. Make sure people in the company – especially business stakeholders – know that the data is protected, and by whom.

I need to know more about backups!

You’re in luck! The Brent Ozar Unlimited crew has been advocating for backups for years. Check out Brent’s post on Backup Best Practices. Watch Jeremiah’s Backup to Basics video. Read How to Test Your Backup Strategy by Kendra. Then, check out my Backup & Recovery, Step by Step 115-minute training. You’ll be smarter, and you could be saving your company from a huge disaster.

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  1. Hello Jes,
    this is really an important reminder, thank you. In the Company I work, the datacenter is managed by an outsourcer which takes in charge several operations, such as backups. A couple of years ago I discovered that SQL backups were a mess and it took me about four months of continuous challenge until things were put in order.

    I helped myself using a third party SQL toolset, that nicely allows me to keep track of backups and check history of each one of the 150 production databases I am managing.

    In your post you do not talk about backup retention, which is -in my opinion- a very important (and somewhate complex)topic. So I would add a question: what is the backup retention policy and is it adequate to the business needs?

    Kindest Regards,
    Fabrizio

  2. who’s taking your backups ? if you don’t ship your dump tapes off-site you are vulnerable [ignoring over-the-wire stuff], and if you do they are vulnerable to physical interception unless you encrypt them.

    If you encrypt dump files how do you manage your encryption policy? Have you checked that your D/R site can decrypt dumps (not just local DPAPI stuff) ? Jes’ original note to validate dump integrity must be done by restoring on OFF-SITE machines.

    Of course if you are practising mirroring or Log-Shipping or other fancy HA tricks, this may happen automagically.

    But remember the old adages that
    1. if it can go wrong it will
    2. .. at the worst possible time (e.g. Y/E)
    3. .. when the CEO is visiting with key customers

    enjoy!
    Dick

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