DBA Tip of the Month: Jan/2010

I want to start this New Year creating a new session on my blog called “DBA Tip of the month” where I will try to post every month an important tip to help all fellows DBAs to improve their careers.

The first topic of this session will be:

Being Proactive with Backup & Recovery”

Always when I arrive on a new client I ask the DBA on charge the following questions:

  • Do you have your recovery strategy documented step by step?
  • Are you 100% sure that your tape backups are usable?
  • Do you know exactly how long a recovery on your production environment will take if necessary?

And almost 90% of the time the answers will be:

  • No!
  • I not sure, but I think so!
  • No idea, probably…!

You will be on shock to know how many times I’m call to support a DBA to try to recover a Database because the most current tape backup is unusable!

Backup & Recovery are a very important (crucial) part of a DBA role, as a DBA I’ll never be stressed enough to repeat over and over what in my opinion is the most important rule for a DBA:

“The most important rule with respect to data is to never put yourself into an unrecoverable situation.”

You know, because bad stuff happen….
Bad 1Bad 2Bad 3
…When you less expect, and due to this, I’ll always recommend a DBA to perform a proactive approach to his/her Database Backup and Recovery strategy.

The main idea is:

  1. Randomly choose a backup tape and recovery it on a test machine (It can be a virtual one).
  2. Take this opportunity to document all the recover process.
  3. Review the entire process ant try to improve it!
  4. Repeat this exercise every month and try to involve other DBAs in the process!

This easy process will allow you to:

  1. Test your Tape backups and see if they are being backup correctly.
  2. Check and improve your recovery knowledge and strategy.
  3. Document all your recovery process that could be used for any other DBA in the company in case you are not available in the recovery situation.
  4. Detect any error on your backup & recovery strategy.
  5. Know your recovery time. Next time your manager asks you” Do you know how long a recovery will take? You will know the exact answer.
  6. Have an opportunity to review your process and try to make it more efficient.

Like you can see, this is an easy proactive exercise that will allow you and your company to be prepared in case of a disaster and recovery situations occurs, and you know when this always happens….


Francisco Munoz Alvarez

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