Backup and Restore

Hello Mark,

Thank you for the new section here, its really fantastic!

What is the best way to test that my backup and restore functionality on my GMP servers are working correctly.


The only real way to test back up and restore is to actually do it. The problem is that no one wants to do that with a live system. So what happens is that when lightning strikes and you actually have to replace a server and restore from backup, the restore does not go smoothly because no one has attempted to do this before. The only thing I can recommend is that you do this early in the project. Go through and do a complete Backup of the system and Restore to a new out of the box server. At FAT or early in SAT is a good time before any real GMP data is stored. I would also take detailed notes so that you can draft an SOP that can be used when the lightning or fire or whatever destroys your server. Remember Ghost images are great if the new server is exactly like the old server. But usually 7 years down the road the specs of the new server will be different and the Ghost image will not work.

Yes, it’s no use backing up data if those backups aren’t exercised as part of an approved plan. This is a common mistake that can potentially cause a business lots of disruption.

MY recommendation is to:

  1. Ensure that build procedures exist for all servers and workstations;
  2. Ensure that installation and configuration procedures exist for application software
  3. All procedures are adequately tested.
  4. Backups backup critical data, e.g. databases.

This means that if an image or full-state backup can’t be restored; the server can be re-installed and the data retored. Ghost images are great but still, they must be tested; at least having a regularly scheduled backup of critical / GMP data this means that systems can be restored quickly and with greater confidence.

Hi, on a slightly different note, i need to save data for quite some time (at least 15 years). I have moved away from paper copies of documents and have everything stored on computer - using Q-Pulse. My question is…how often do i need to take backups? IT currently take one every night and this is usually kept for up to year. If i have a query in 5 years time, i wont be able to restore anything from today. If i take monthly backups myself and keep them, forever (onto CD, then copying the CD every few years to avoid degradation) i would end up with drawerfuls of CDs! Where do i draw the line between keeping ALL data and most data. If i create a record today and someone deletes it in 2 weeks (lets say a malicious staff member), then my monthly backup would miss it and in a few years time all traces of it would be gone when IT copy over the backups!!

Any thoughts??

You need regular backups and you need to have an offsite storage mechanism. In addition, make sure you database security only lets you delete things. Generally, it is completly forbidden to delete ANYTHING from a production system database.

If you’re using CDs - they should be exercised and you need a plan in place to ensure you can restore the data, in a human readable format for the lifetime of the retention period.

If you have got data that must be kept for legal reasons I recommend that you have a professional evaluation of the IT operation that is responsible for data management.