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If you don’t test restores, you don’t have backups

It is as simple as the title suggests: “If you don’t test restores, you don’t have backups.” Back in the days making backups wasn’t as trivial as today. Complex procedures, expensive storage, slow restores and performance impact made backups not the best conversation topic.

Today however with the power of the Cloud and services provided by it, making backups is as easy as 1-2-3. The only thing you need to do is configure backups for a particular service and you’re done, right?

Well almost, you still need to decide how many backups you want and how long you want to keep them. You also need to understand how to restore these backups and what the impact could be for your application.

At Dovetail we have a layered backup approach meaning that we have multiple backups stored in different ways spread across multiple regions and availability zones. In case of a failure we can restore the complete Dovetail environment with the press of a button using AWS Backup. This takes no more than a few minutes and is practised every week by different engineers by randomly simulating a malfunction and directly notifying the engineer via Slack. The malfunction happens in an environment which looks and feels the same as a production environment. 

If a restore with AWS Backup doesn’t work, we fall back to a complete re-deploy of that particular Dovetail environment. This re-deploy is the same as the creation of a new Dovetail environment with the exception that we restore the configuration which is backuped in Amazon S3. This is a common process and fully automated with Ansible. Although this takes longer (~30min) than a restore with AWS Backup, it gives the opportunity to completely start with a new environment.

Conclusion

All in all we are very pleased with the current backup solution ánd the ability to practise the restore so that we are prepared when things go wrong. 

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