Acrbo-300sq-pass-failTesting backup has long been considered labor-intensive, time-consuming and costly – and therefore a low-priority project. But unlike the past, Chris Groot explains, cloud-based backup enables you to strike a balance between effort and risk mitigation.

The price for being proactive is no longer high. But remaining reactionary can be costly.

Does that statement seem familiar? It’s from last month’s post, written in the context of improving recovery time by adopting a proactive approach to backup. But it works just as well for another “to-do” that many managed service providers (MSPs) conveniently overlook.

Roll your eyes if you like. But it’s time to have a talk about testing your backup.

The first step is to understand why backup is a big deal. But even with a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution in place, you and your customers are operating with a false sense of security if your efforts stop there.

Here’s why: The value MSPs provide in backing up customer data that grows greater by the day is only realized if the information can quickly and easily be restored after an IT outage. Such certainty – “peace of mind,” if you prefer – only comes with regular testing.

What’s holding you back? The guess here is you subscribe to a common belief: Testing is labor-intensive, and therefore time-consuming and costly.

Sounds like a job that deserves low-priority – and possibly “no priority” – status. Do you disagree? You aren’t the only one that feels this way, either.

The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s 2014 survey on the state of DR preparedness worldwide paints an alarming picture. Forty percent of respondents say their company’s current DR plan falls short of being effective in a worst-case scenario.

But that’s not all:

  • 33% of businesses test their DR plans only once or twice a year
  • 23% of organizations do not test their DR plans whatsoever
  • 65% of companies that do test their DR plans fail the test

“Without testing and verification of DR plans,” the report states, “most companies have no idea as to whether they can fully recover their IT systems in the event of a disaster or an extended outage.”

In fairness, the challenge associated with testing backup has historically been that it is an exhaustive undertaking. It involved taking down production machines to actually run the test and restore the data. Furthermore, the job didn’t generate revenue, meaning the effort and expense involved to complete the project outweighed the benefit of knowing a test was successful.

The other option was far from ideal. But it was an option, nonetheless: Hope disaster doesn’t strike.

Such a strategy can’t possibly instill confidence. Take a moment to consider what’s at stake if your prayers aren’t answered.

The advantage of cloud-based BDR with built-in testing is it transforms the process from painstaking to easy and profitable. The technology makes it possible to test many customer devices through a single, hosted console. The work load is minimal.

The business benefit is equally significant. Companies looking to outsource their backup needs often view all BDR solutions as identical. Your ability to offer regular testing adds value, differentiates your business, and establishes an additional revenue stream.

Testing backup never has been, nor is it likely to be, a glamorous gig. Unlike the past, however, today’s technology gives you the necessary tools to strike a balance between effort and risk mitigation.

So what’s your excuse for not testing now?

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