Six-Step Checklist for Database Backup and Recovery

Posted by Matt Berringer on December 1, 2014

Database Backup and RecoveryYou have made a significant investment in your administrative systems and spend considerable time and effort maintaining the data that is crucial for your students’ and organization’s success. Unfortunately, though, the unexpected can happen at any time. If you are a database administrator, one of your key responsibilities is to prepare for the possibility of hardware failure and for the recovery of databases following a disaster.Are you ready?

A 2012 feature published in the ISACA Journal—which was authored by Ali Navid Akhtar, OCP; Jeff Bushholtz: Michael Ryan, CIA, CPA; and Kumar Setty, CISA—details a series of best practices for database backup and recovery. This blog post features highlights from that article. The authors offered the following six-step checklist for database backup and recovery procedures:

Develop a Comprehensive Backup Plan
A comprehensive backup plan includes the following steps:

  • Decide what needs to be backed up. It is imperative that the database administrator be aware of all components that need to be backed up.
  • Determine the appropriate backup type for your data.
  • Establish an appropriate backup schedule and window. In the vast majority of cases, it is best to set up a weekly backup cycle starting with full backups on Friday night or Saturday morning and incremental/differential backups through the weekdays. Archive/transaction log backups can be scheduled for every few hours, depending on the volatility of the database.
  • Decide where to store backups. It is good practice to back up to disk, transfer to tape, and store tapes offsite for disaster recovery.
  • Develop a backup retention policy.

Perform Effective Backup Management
Effective backup management features the following aspects:

  • Automate backups.
  • Monitoring backups. Set up monitoring using appropriate tools so that the database administrator gets an email or alert for any failed backups, which should be rerun as soon as possible.
  • Database catalog maintenance. Delete obsolete backups to ensure optimal performance.
  • Validating backups. Validate and verify backups without doing actual restores.
  • Setting up dependencies. When backing up to disk, archive these backups to tape as soon as backup to disk completes.

Perform Periodic Database Restoration Testing
Backups are of no use if the IT team cannot restore the data to the system at the time of need. The database administrator should formulate a detailed strategy for this task:

  • Databases restore testing. There should be a requirement to test database restores from disk as well as from tape backups
  • Validating restores when possible.
  • Refresh nonproduction databases from production backups.
  • Perform annual/biannual restore testing from tape as part of an audit.
  • Back up the database prior to doing an actual restore.
  • Develop a strategy to recover from database corruption.

Draft Service-Level Agreements and Communicate Them to Stakeholders
Service-level agreements, which cover details of backup procedures and include a timeline for recovery, set the user community’s expectations for the recovery process. Ensure that they are reviewed and approved by district/school management.

Document a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)
Ensure that databases are included as a key element in the school’s/district’s overall Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). All stakeholders should understand the elements of the plan and in what order the IT team will restore the databases.

Stay Up to Date
Because the database administrators play the most important role in the process, they must ensure that their knowledge is up to date.

If you’re part of a lean team, you may have more peace of mind with SunGard K-12 Education’s Application Backup Service. Application Backup Service provides nightly backup of your SunGard K-12 Education software database(s). In the event of a disaster at your location, this service allows you to temporarily run the component systems from a SunGard K-12 Education Data Center remotely via the Internet.

Here’s how it works:

  • SunGard K-12 Education will install software on your server that every night will compress and transfer backup data files to our Data Center via a secure copy utility.
  • Each morning, our trained technicians will verify the status of the transfer operation and send you an email confirming status.
  • Upon notification of a failure, SunGard K-12 Education will work with you to diagnose and correct the problem.
  • Within one business day of notification, we will provide you access to the last transferred data and application.

Application Backup Service includes:

  • Initial cataloging of SunGard K-12 Education source code used in your system
  • Access to our Recovery System to conduct an initial system test
  • Annual system test to verify that you can run SunGard K-12 Education software and sufficiently access your data on the Recovery System to support live production processing
  • Storage of at least the two most recent generations of nightly data backups retrieved from your server

IT directors can be assured that they are seamlessly protecting district data with SunGard K-12’s Application Backup Service. To learn more, please call (866) 905-8989 to speak to a SunGard K-12 representative. If you are already a SunGard K-12 customer, just contact your CRM for more information.

Topics: Application Backup Service, technology, database backup and recovery, K-12