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Losing Data

By Steve Jones,

Most of us that work as data professionals hate the idea of losing data. When the developer calls and says his test database is gone and backups were never set up, we may shrug our shoulders and offer to help next time, but we feel bad. We will try everything we can do to recover the data, usually going out of our way to give it our best effort. 

We will lose data. There will be situations that are out of our control, and we have to accept that. However we should try not to make the easy mistakes ourselves that might cause data loss. I ran across a short piece on Five Sure Ways to Lose Data and I agree with the items, but I think there are a few more things we should watch out for.

One of the easiest mistakes to make to forget is to set up backups. Too often we implement new databases under time pressure, dealing with software that is dropped in our laps at the last minute. Security permissions are never documented and during the frustration of just getting something deployed, we may forget to set up a backup system, intending to do it next week.

Don't do that. Get backups set up immediately. It's quick, it's easy, and you should have some automated process or script ready. As soon as you complete backups, invite yourself to a meeting to set up monitoring in the next day or two. That's one of the other easy things to fix: ensuring your backup schemes are working by monitoring your servers. Your monitoring should include alerts for DBCC checks and high severity errors in addition to backups at a minimum. Automating this, or using a tool, are the best things you can do.

There are lots of other things we might ignore that can cause data loss, but if you get your backups working, you should be able to recover from most any situation.

Steve Jones

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Steve Jones