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Creating a "Complete" Backup Solution-2 : Page 2


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It Isn't Backed Up Till You've Restored It
Recently, a company I know had a problem with their Exchange server. The data store used by Exchange got corrupted. Having a thorough schedule of backups in place, the staff was not worried—till they discovered to their horror that the backup copies suffered from the same problem.

The bottom line is this: until you actually do a restore, you don't know that you've successfully backed up your data. You might have a high confidence level, but you can't be sure.

Create a Hot Backup
The best solution for critical systems is always to restore the backup once it's been made onto another machine. This will also provide you with a "hot" backup that is ready to be used, should your production database ever crash. If you can't afford this higher cost, you should at least do periodic test restores.



For SQL Server 2000, I suggest you take advantage of the fact that you can create a standby database using the STANDBY option in the RESTORE command. Under this mode the backup database can still be used for read-only queries. This can help you justify the cost of the standby server, because you'll be using it at the same time as a reporting database.

Move Your Backup Off the Original Machine ASAP
A typical backup scenario creates a backup to a local set of disks. There are a couple of reasons for this. The backup is extremely fast. Also, disks are a much more convenient place to store a backup for later access than tape.

In some smaller systems, the backup is never moved to another machine. The rationale given is that because a RAID array is used, the chance that more than one drive will be lost is minimal. In other systems, the backup is copied to tape in the evening.

Even so, you still run the risk that both your original and backup can be lost and inaccessible at the same time between the time the backup is made and until it's copied to tape. For example, if the OS crashes (ever had a "patch" or a new piece of hardware cause more problems than it solved?) none of the information on any of the disks will be available until you resolve the OS error. The same goes for an electrical short, lost network connectivity, or any one of a dozen scenarios you can think of if you try hard enough. (And if you don't try hard enough, Murphy's Law will do it for you.)



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