The Importance of Database Backups and Disaster Recovery

A database backup is like insurance for your data—you hope to never need it, but when you do, you’ll find that having a current, reliable, and accessible backup can save time, money, and frustration. The disaster recovery processes you put in place today will be the determining factor in the extent and severity of downtime your business will face in the event of a data disaster. As outlined below, there are multiple options and considerations to take into account when planning your dealership’s disaster recovery strategy.

Create a Local Disk Backup

Sending your data to cloud storage is a great redundancy plan, but don’t underestimate the value of a local backup. The local backup provides the first line of defense against a data disaster and is most useful in the event of a single point of hardware failure.

Benefits of a Local Disk Backup

  • One of the main benefits to creating a local disk backup is that you’ll have a consolidated access point to capture all critical system backups, including SQL Server and Excede DMS, Microsoft Exchange Server, file servers, etc.
  • A local disk backup also provides quick access to the most current data snapshot, which can easily be restored to new hardware. Retrieval time is minimal because data is transferred across the LAN.
  • In addition, your data is secure because it resides locally on-premise.

Local Disk Backup Considerations & Recommendations

  • Determine a backup frequency. Long before a data disaster occurs, you must decide your acceptable window for potential data loss. For example, if a disaster occurs, are you comfortable recreating five hours’ worth of transactions, two hours, or 30 minutes? Your answer will determine the frequency in which to capture a data snapshot.
  • Select the size of your data snapshot. You may choose to perform a complete database backup at a frequent interval, or you may opt for a single full database backup each day, followed by frequent transaction log snapshots (transaction logs represent the changes since the last full backup). Keep in mind that there are advantages to each—full database backups take up more space on your disk drive but provide for faster recovery, while transaction logs take up less space but require more effort to restore.
  • Create a retention policy. Compress full database backups, and purge backups and transaction logs on a regular basis. We typically recommend retaining seven days’ worth of backup activity, unless a longer retention period is necessary.
  • Establish alerts. Most major components, like SQL Server and Exchange, offer built-in tools for creating alerts based on success/failure criteria. Being informed of failures as they happen allows you to quickly make changes to your setup or process before a data disaster strikes. We recommend enabling SQL alerts to get notified of a failed backup or a failed ‘consistency check’ job that runs every night.
  • Enable hardware monitoring. This is imperative so that you can be notified about hard drive errors and failures related to RAID (redundant array of independent disks) degradation. If your SQL Server is a virtual machine (VM), these notifications need to be configured on the VM host server.
  • Use a Network Attached Storage (NAS). If your dealership has multiple branch locations on the same LAN, we recommend copying over all backups to a second secure file server or NAS. Ideally, this NAS would have ample storage space and be located offsite at a different physical location. We also recommend keeping these backups for a longer retention period than the seven days typically used on the SQL Server.

Utilize a Cloud Backup Service

In addition to a local backup process, sending your data to a cloud storage device or service can safeguard you against additional risks that may render your local backup unusable. Many different cloud backup solutions exist, with varying features and price points, so you’ll need to evaluate which one is the right fit for your business needs.

Benefits of a Cloud Backup Service

  • A cloud backup service provides added redundancy beyond your local disk backups, giving you added peace of mind and bolstering your business continuity planning strategy.
  • Storing your backups in the cloud will preserve your data in the event where physical damages have occurred, such as a fire or other natural disaster.

Cloud Backup Considerations & Recommendations

  • Time your cloud backup wisely. It’s imperative to understand bandwidth restrictions or limitations, and research options for scheduling the most efficient time of day for the backup to be sent to the cloud. Configure a nightly process to push out a single daily backup to the cloud if bandwidth/cloud storage prices are an issue.
  • Understand how long the recovery process takes. Having your data available in the cloud is great, but if your cloud backup takes a full day to download from the internet, then the downtime may lead you to seek out a different provider/solution or re-evaluate bandwidth restrictions.
  • Find a file agnostic solution. Another consideration is to ensure that your cloud solution can support the various backup file types. For example, not all cloud storage is suitable for Microsoft SQL Server database backups.

Test Your Plan

  • Don’t wait for a disaster to strike before testing your recovery process. Schedule routine run-throughs of your entire process and work out the kinks in advance, much like a fire drill.
  • Document the process, including file paths, links, logins/passwords, etc.
  • If Excede DMS is impacted, ensure you have a documented and tested process for handling business without Excede, such as hand-writes, and a structured process for re-entering that data when you’re back up and running.
  • Develop a plan to communicate what is happening to all users throughout your organization and talking points for them to relay to customers.

Consider Switching to Excede Hosted Services

If you have concerns about your dealership’s database backup and disaster recovery process, consider switching to Excede Hosted Services. With Excede Hosted Services, Procede Software hosts your Excede database and Excede web applications in the cloud, providing you with 24/7 monitoring, secure data backups, and management of your software updates and upgrades. Our hosted services offering is built on the industry-leading Microsoft Azure platform, providing your dealership with the flexibility, scalability and reliability you need.

Please note, you will still need to consider disaster contingency plans for applications/processes outside of Excede DMS or components hosted by Procede Software. Click here to learn more about our hosted solution.

Getting Started

If you or someone at your dealership has questions regarding database backups and disaster recovery, or if you’re interested in switching to Excede Hosted Services, please submit a work order request via our Customer & Resources Portal. A Procede Specialist will reach out with more information.