Why is Operational Recovery Needed?

The reason backup strategies exist is to ensure operational continuity after someone makes a mistake, purposefully corrupts data, or hardware or software component runs afoul. Operational recovery is the day-to-day reason you backup data. It is the recovery of specific parts of the IT infrastructure, a file, an email message, a component of Active Directory or now even a virtual machine.

Types of Operational Recovery

Operational recovery of accidentally damaged data is the most common thing anyone responsible for backups will find themselves doing. Someone will accidentally delete a file, or someone else will accidentally delete an entire directory. The biggest restore I ever participated in was due to a shell script coding failure that deleted thousands of home directories.

One must also consider how important email has become, as many people use their email systems like a file system – storing important files by how they were sent. They might not remember where they stored a file but they do remember they sent that file to a particular person. Unfortunately, the space available to many people in their email system causes them to do the same kinds of things that caused them to delete files. Therefore, many people find themselves looking for an email that they swore they wrote but cannot find – because they deleted it for one reason or another.

Then, of course, there is Active Directory. Those that must administer Active Directory are under constant pressure to ensure that only accurate data is represented there. Only authorized users should be in the appropriate groups, and only active users should be represented at all. For security reasons, many environments find themselves adopting a “delete first and ask questions later” policy. They’d rather have an inconvenienced employee than have an employee or ex-employee given access to the wrong data. This policy unfortunately creates the need to restore Active Directory as well. But you can’t just restore all of Active Directory; you need to be able to restore select portions that have been accidentally changed or deleted.

Finally, the other thing that tends to happen in an operational environment is accidental deletion of an entire VM. This didn’t happen so much in the physical server days, as “deleting” a physical server required more than a mouse click. However, the pressures of resource management cause virtualization administrators to have the same reasons to delete VM’s as everyone else does to delete data. Of course, sometimes they delete a VM that they should not have deleted and it needs to be recovered.

Operational Recovery Requires Object Level Recovery

Given that these are all the reasons that a backup system might need to perform a recovery, you would think that backup systems would be designed to make these quicker; however, this is often not the case. For example, consider emails that are stored inside Exchange that are stored inside a VM. Many backup systems would require that you first perform a full recovery of the VM, followed by a recovery of Exchange, followed by recovering an individual email from Exchange. That’s three steps to get a single email, and that’s too many.

Backup systems should allow for instant recovery of files, emails, and Active Directory objects no matter how they are backed up. They also should allow for instant boot of a VM from backups, as that can allow you to quickly recover from one of the worst things that can happen operationally – a deleted VM. Backup systems that make these types of recoveries very fast honor the primary purpose of a backup system – operational recovery.

StorageSwiss Take

Disaster recovery is also an important component of an entire data protection system, but they also rarely happen. What happens almost daily at many companies is something that requires an operational recovery, and backup systems should make those happen as quickly as possible before they begin to enhance other parts of their system.

Sponsored by NAKIVO


NAKIVO is a US corporation that develops a fast, reliable, and affordable data protection solution for Hyper-V, VMware, and AWS environments. NAKIVO Backup & Replication v7 provides native Hyper-V backup for Microsoft Hyper-V 2016 and 2012 R2. Out of the box, the NAKIVO Backup & Replication can perform instant recovery of VMs, files, Exchange object and Active Directory objects directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups. Over 10,000 companies are using NAKIVO Backup & Replication to protect and recover their data more efficiently and cost effectively. Visit www.nakivo.com to learn more.

W. Curtis Preston (aka Mr. Backup) is an expert in backup & recovery systems; a space he has been working in since 1993. He has written three books on the subject, Backup & Recovery, Using SANs and NAS, and Unix Backup & Recovery. Mr. Preston is a writer and has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world. Preston’s mission is to arm today’s IT managers with truly unbiased information about today’s storage industry and its products.

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One comment on “Why is Operational Recovery Needed?
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