Don’t Worry—Be Certain, with Recovery Testing

There’s a natural human tendency to put things off. When you’re as busy as the typical MSP, responding to customers, working to gain new ones, and dealing with the day-to-day management of multiple IT infrastructures, it’s especially easy to postpone things that are time-consuming or tedious—things like testing your backups.

In the industry, many talk about the importance of testing recovery. We’ve blogged about it on our SolarWinds MSP blog before. However, as long as test recoveries take time and resources you don’t have to spare, it’s likely you’ll continue to put it off.

And yet, lack of testing may result in worry in the back of your mind. When the heat is on and you need recovery, will you encounter any surprises? And how long will recovery take? With the constant specter of ransomware hanging over businesses, data recovery testing is critical for sound security.

So what stands in the way of doing more testing?

Challenges with recovery testing

Even though recovery testing is important, you may face roadblocks that prevent you from doing it regularly, including:

  • Time: Manual disaster recovery takes time. During the regular course of business, technicians already have to perform maintenance, deal with potential issues, and answer tickets. If you’re an MSP owner, you have to manage the team and look for new business. Unless you deliberately schedule much-needed time, manual disaster recovery testing can sometimes fall to the bottom of the task pile. Automating test planning can help reduce this challenge, even if this can get complex without the right tools.
  • Resources: One of the major roadblocks for many years was a heavy requirement on resources. In the past, you needed your own fully equipped secondary data center to perform DR test recoveries. This could be cost-prohibitive for many companies, leading to unpleasant surprises at recovery time—like unrecoverable backups—resulting in data loss. Thankfully, virtualization has made it much easier, allowing you to perform recovery testing using a VM rather than having to run a separate data center.
  • Reporting: One reason to perform regular test recoveries is to document and demonstrate the value of your ongoing data protection service. Customers appreciate the reassurance their data is not only backed up, but also verified as recoverable. So far, we’ve mentioned DR testing helps you ensure a smooth recovery after an attack or data loss incident, but it’s worth mentioning that if you don’t regularly test (and report), then you won’t give customers important peace of mind their data is truly protected. However, some solutions let you automate reports after running a disaster recovery test, allowing you to reassure customers and demonstrate the value of your services.
  • Insight: Part of maintaining strong customer relationships involves expectation setting. When a ransomware attack occurs, customers can start to panic and want their systems fixed fast. This is only natural—even security professionals can sometimes get flustered during a security event, so imagine how challenging it would be for a lay person. If you have a good sense of how long a recovery of specific critical servers is likely to take, you can set expectations up front so they’re more prepared if something does occur. Unless you’ve done a test recovery, you won’t be able to truly predict how long it might take to recover a server. Luckily, automated testing can provide some insight and allow you to set better expectations.

Solving the DR testing challenges

Customer data is too important to let a lack of time or resources limit your DR testing. With the constant threat of ransomware, disaster recovery testing needs to be part of your security services. That’s why we recently released a feature in SolarWinds® Backup to deal with the challenges of regular disaster recovery testing.

The new Recovery Testing feature automates the process of regular, scheduled test recoveries for your customers’ most important servers. Instead of running manual recoveries, you can define which servers you want to test and choose to automatically test them every 14 or 30 days. There’s no need for a secondary data center or even your own hosted VM —SolarWinds MSP provides the VM in the cloud, and automatically spins it up, recovers the backup to the VM, takes a screen shot, and destroys the VM. The whole process is automated and designed for security—requiring no special resources on your side. Plus, you can send automatic reports to customers upon test completion or choose to include test results (including a screenshot of the booted VM) as part of your regular monthly customer reporting. And while automated DR testing in the cloud won’t be exactly the same as real-world recovery to your own environment, it can offer you a good estimate of what to expect when the time comes.

So don’t continue to put it off. Ease your recovery worries, starting today. Save time and gain peace of mind with regular reports that include screenshot verification your system state, file, and folder backups are recoverable and ready should the need arise. Learn more about the feature today.

Guest blog courtesy of SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP blogs here.