Creating a Backup Plan
You have to create a backup plan and utilize it at all times. Implement important tasks such as FTP backups, RAID or secondary backup hard drives. This process can be greatly simplified by automating the backups either via simple scripts, software or web-based control panels such as Cpanel/WHM. This is all part of creating a backup plan.
A security breach, hard drive failure or simply unsaved work will require backup retrieval. A hard drive failure is sudden and unexpected resulting in data loss or damage. A good data recovery site is here. Hard drives are more prone to failure than other dedicated server hardware mostly due to moving parts. Hard drives can also have a tendency to fail shortly after manufacturing rather than after several months of use. Run a hard drive scan to determine if a hard drive failure is imminent.
Creating a backup plan should involve running S.M.A.R.T. scans on the drives from time to time. This stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology. This feature provided by hard drive manufacturers can help predict an imminent drive failure but it is not 100% accurate. You can always ask your dedicated server provider for a hard drive S.M.A.R.T. test. This should always be part of creating a backup plan.
Creating a Backup Plan
It is important that your backups come with enough space to at least back up the most important data. Also, make sure you are not scheduling backups to run during normal business hours when your server could start to run sluggishly. Backups can be resource-intensive. If backups are run on a daily basis, it is best to perform them during very late or early hours while server traffic is at its lowest. If backups are performed on a weekly basis, weekends tend to be the best times for this.
Postpone and reschedule if you have a sales or promotional event happening during a scheduled backup.
There is no point in running backups and realizing only partial backups have been performed or even worse, none at all. Check backups at random times to ensure this is not happening. Email notifications will inform you of a successful and verified backup. This is easy to set up.
In the event of data loss and the backups need to be retrieved, make sure there is a plan to retrieve the data quickly and effortlessly. How will the data be retrieved and how long will it take? Can you afford to lose a week’s worth of data or should you have set up daily backups? Keep in mind that the amount of data going to the backup destination will take time depending on how much data is transferred. If there is a lot of data, a secondary hard drive might be the fastest solution. However, if your dedicated server becomes hacked this will also mean your backup data is now also vulnerable.
If you have a RAID1 system and one drive suffers from hardware failure, you will need to prepare for some downtime as the new working hard drive has time to receive the data from the secondary drive. A RAID5 system can resolve this issue. Two other drives can remain working while the third hard drive sends data to the fourth drive that failed.
Data will take up a lot of space. Always be prepared for expansion and more space as your data grows especially if your backups are not being overwritten on each backup. If you are utilizing FTP backups or other external backups make sure you can upgrade your FTP backup account. If using a RAID1 system upgrading to larger drives will be more complicated but definitely attainable. A secondary hard drive upgrade will be an easy swap. Also, consider if the monthly allotted inbound and outbound traffic to your off-server backups meets your backup requirements.
A good way to make sure backups are working and verified is to manually verify the data. An even better way is to actually perform a backup retrieval to replace existing data on primary or some other test drive. Was the procedure error free, quick and efficient?
Finally, creating a robust and redundant backup plan will be useless if the human factor is not considered. It is up to the dedicated server administrator to ensure the backups are setup, verified and retrievable in a secure and reliable manner.