By Joe Kim, SolarWinds Chief Technology Officer


It’s time to stop treating data as a commodity and create a secure and reliable data recovery plan by following a few core strategies.


1. Establish objectives


Establish a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) that determines how much data loss is acceptable. Understanding acceptable risk levels can help establish a baseline understanding of where DBAs should focus their recovery efforts.


Then, work on a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) that shows how long the agency can afford to be without its data.


2. Understand differences between backups and snapshots


There’s a surprising amount of confusion about the differences between database backups, server tape backups, and snapshots. For instance, many people have a misperception that a storage area network (SAN) snapshot is a backup, when it’s really only a set of data reference markers. Remember that a true backup, either on- or off-site, is one in which data is securely stored in the event that it needs to be recovered.


3. Make sure those backups are working


Although many DBAs will undoubtedly insist that their backups are working, the only way to know for sure is to test the backups by doing a restore. This will provide assurance that backups are running — not failing — and highly available.


4. Practice data encryption


DBAs can either encrypt the database backup file itself, or encrypt the entire database. That way, if someone takes a backup, they won’t be able to access the information without a key. DBAs must also ensure that if a device is lost or stolen, the data stored on the device remains inaccessible to users without proper keys.


5. Monitor and collect data


Combined with network performance monitoring and other analysis software, real-time monitoring and real-time data collection can improve performance, reduce outages, and maintain network and data availability.


Real-time collection of information can be used to do proper data forensics. This will make it easier to track down the cause of an intrusion, which can be detected through monitoring.


Monitoring, database analysis, and log and event management can help DBAs understand if something is failing. They’ll be able to identify potential threats through things like unusual queries or suspected anomalies. They can compare the queries to their historical information to gauge whether or not the requests represent potential intrusions.


6. Test, test, test


If you’re managing a large database, there’s simply not enough space or time to restore and test it every night. DBAs should test a random sampling taken from their databases. From this information, DBAs can gain confidence that they will be able to recover any database they administer, even if that database is in a large pool. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this post, which gets into further detail on database sampling.


Data is quickly becoming a truly precious asset to government agencies, so it is critical to develop a sound data recovery plan.


Find the full article on our partner DLT’s blog, Technically Speaking.