Beyond backup: 5 other needs for World Backup Day

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World Backup Day is a great reminder to make and test backups -- but what else might you be overlooking?

Whether it's Mother's Day, Veteran's Day, or Administrative Professional's Day, we like to assign days to remind us to pay attention to important things. World Backup Day is no different. Started a few years ago by a group of Redditors, World Backup Day is primarily aimed at reminding people to protect their digital lives with backups.

Many of us in IT would benefit from reminders to test backups, too. But there's a litany of additional items IT has to stay on top of to keep operations running smoothly and to aid recovery when disaster strikes. Along with ensuring that backups are made and frequently tested, here are five details you might not think about every day. Consider using this awareness day to double-check that you have all your ducks in a row, not just your backups.

1. Software media and licenses

If an application needs to be reinstalled following a restore, do you have the media readily available? What about the licensing?

This may seem not to be a big deal in a day and age where you can download virtually any piece of software from the Internet. However, I've seen several instances where a client needed to reinstall software released a few years ago, only to find it could no longer download the required version. Worse, the client had made customizations that didn't work with a newer version. Worse still, the license keys on record didn't cooperate with the new version without paying for an upgrade.

Backing up most network devices is easy to do and can save you huge amounts of time if you ever have to replace one in a hurry -- just make sure you store those backups somewhere you can get at them without the network being operational! There's nothing worse than having awesome documentation you can't access when you need it.

4. Restoring in an unfamiliar setting

Just about everyone keeps archival backups offsite or at least in a fireproof safe. But have you ever really thought through how you'd use them if you needed to? If you use tape, where will you find a compatible tape drive? Do you have a copy of the software you used to perform the backups stored with them? Who would you call to get compatible server gear shipped to you? How long might that take? Where might you be able to set up if your office is destroyed or inaccessible?

More and more, IT shops are answering these questions by using the cloud -- either to store their backups or for failover using disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). But those approaches raise their own questions: If you need all your cloud backup data in a hurry, can you get someone to ship it to you? How long might that take? If not, how long would it take to download? If you're using a service that charges based on restore throughput (especially Amazon Glacier), do you know how much an emergency restore might cost?

5. Working remotely in a disaster

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