How to Test Your Backups to Ensure That They Work

Your data is an important business asset and you should protect it. The average cost of a data breach and associated downtime is now $3.92 million and rising, according to recent reports. Losing confidential files can cost your company its reputation.

Furthermore, although backing up data is clearly something that every business should be doing, you shouldn’t keep your backup files on the same computer as the original data. Statistics show that 97% of stolen hardware is never recovered. 

The question is, if backing up data is so important, how do you make sure your backup files are accessible and usable? There are a few things to bear in mind. Here’s what you should know about when to back files up and how to test those backup files once they’re generated. 

How often to perform backups 

It’s good practice to backup your essential files at least once per week, although it’s even better to back them up every 24 or 48 hours. This way, you’ll always have access to the most recent version of the files you’ve been working on.

Every business has unique data backup needs, which is why you should always ask a managed services provider for advice on the right backup strategy for your business. 

7 steps for testing your backups 

Now that it’s clear backups are crucial to your business continuity, here are our top tips for keeping those backup files operational. 

1. Have a plan 

Identify what files are critical to your business, such as spreadsheets, client information, and financial data, and decide how often these should be backed up. Implement a Backup Policy across your business so that employees know how often they should back up documents and where they should save them to.

2. Have extra backups 

This is a particularly important step if you back up files to a physical location, such as a remote drive or tape. Always have an extra copy of your backups stored somewhere else as a fail-safe against data loss.  

3. Test at regular intervals 

We can’t overemphasize the importance of testing your backed up files at regular intervals, be it daily, weekly, or monthly. Make sure you can access the files and that they work properly. 

4. Test compatibility 

Whenever you introduce new hardware, software, or apps to your business, ensure that your backups are compatible with any new programming. 

5. Simulate failure scenarios 

Test your backups and your backup protocols against disaster scenarios established as part of your business continuity planning strategies. Ensure that you know how your backups behave in the event of data corruption and partial and full data loss, and identify any system weaknesses. 

6. Check your compliance requirements 

Some sectors, such as healthcare, have specific data requirements that businesses must comply with. Ensure that you back up data in compliance with any data protection or encryption standards, and ask IT professionals for advice if you’re unsure.

7. Automation 

Take advantage of automated procedures and schedule frequent backups. Using automation frees up staff to focus their attention on more productive and profitable activities. 


Backups are critical to ensuring that your business stays operational if important original documents are lost or corrupted. For more information on backing up your files, contact us today.