January 29, 2021

Why MSPs Should Proactively Troubleshoot Backups

By Dan Ciccone

Data backup and continuity aren’t foolproof. Even with the most reliable solutions, sometimes backups still fail. We’ve all been there before: You click ‘restore’, cross your fingers, and hope everything goes smoothly. That’s why managed service providers (MSPs) should proactively test restore capabilities to ensure they’re prepared for any scenario that comes their way.

The Importance of Testing Your Backup and Continuity Process

Today’s business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions take image-based server backups (AKA snapshots), which are saved in a format that can be virtualized (i.e. mounted as a virtual machine on a secondary device) for fast recovery of operations. To truly ensure that an image restore will be successful, you cannot simply test file and folder level recovery. Instead, MSPs should invest the time to test a full system restore because you never know what issues you may run into along the way.

Luckily for MSPs, there’s a way to stay ahead of what has been a reactive process for MSPs for decades.

Get Proactive with Testing

Datto Unified Continuity offers features that enable MSPs to non-disruptively test restores, including:

  1. Screenshot Verification is designed to test operating system boot success. It typically runs once per day per protected system.
  2. Microsoft Application Verification ensures Microsoft SQL, Active Directory Domain Server, DHCP Server, and DNS Server backup images can be mounted successfully.
  3. Service Verification tests that specific services have started correctly.
  4. Local Verification performs a file integrity check similar to running a Check Disk on a client machine.
  5. Volume Verification checks whether a protected volume is present in the backup.
  6. Volume Shadow Copy Writer Integrity Check ensures that VSS Writers are in a healthy state.
  7. Ransomware Detection scans the backup to see if the client system has been encrypted and triggers an alert if it identifies the presence of ransomware.
  8. PowerShell Scripting capabilities enable MSPs to write custom PowerShell/Bash scripts to run on booted virtual machines expanding verification beyond what we’ve provided in the User Interface.

Datto’s Patented Technology Helps MSPs Avert Disruptions

Datto’s Unified Continuity solutions are equipped with patented technology to make testing and backups more reliable for MSPs. Advanced Backup Verification and Inverse Chain Technology offer proactive troubleshooting, the ability to fix issues with backups as they occur, and peace of mind in restoration. Screenshot Verification was the first tool Datto developed to stay ahead of potential disruptions in failover. With Screenshot Verification, you will know that the backup you took can boot the operating system to success after a client’s server goes down. Advanced Backup Verification takes this a step further by checking whether backup server images can be mounted and applications can be run.

An MSP can troubleshoot why the image did not boot successfully, fix the issue, take subsequent backups, and delete the incremental backup that was potentially broken without breaking the overall backup chain. Seeing a login screen of the client’s server does not provide nearly enough peace of mind in knowing that if my client’s server goes down, I can run it with confidence and restore it when I’m done.

MSPs looking to improve their backup and continuity process for their clients should be proactively testing their process and identifying any gaps or issues. Advanced Backup Verification and Inverse Chain Technology allow for proactive recognition of potential issues in the backup itself so troubleshooting can occur before a restore is needed, ensuring MSPs can deliver the most effective and reliable service for their clients.

To learn more about Datto’s Unified Continuity solutions, schedule a free demo with a Solutions Engineer to see them in action.

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