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What are some best practices for planning database backups?

Adhering to service-level agreements, keeping up with performance demands and planning for future workloads are just a few of the goals you should keep in mind when planning database backups.

When it comes to planning your organization's database backups, you should keep several goals in mind. A database backup protects and restores a database. You create a backup to ensure access to critical data and compliance with data regulations, so it's important to take the right approach to it.

The most obvious goal of database backups is adherence to recovery service-level agreements. With data backups, an SLA can include acceptable recovery times and data access terms. If a recovery operation becomes necessary, then the database will likely be offline for a period of time.

Although current backup options have greatly reduced the amount of time to recover from a data loss event, the recovery operation can still take seconds to minutes to complete. It is important to make sure that your data backup and recovery strategy aligns with your organization's business requirements and that you are able to recover the database within the time allotted in an SLA.

Another goal for planning database backups is to make sure that your backup architecture can keep pace with demand. For example, it should not take six minutes to back up the transactions that have occurred in the last five minutes. A backup strategy simply cannot adequately protect data if data is consistently being created faster than it can be backed up.

Remember that database workloads change over time. The rate at which transactions occur within a database today is probably going to be different from the transaction rate a year from now. One goal for protecting your database backups must be to anticipate future database workloads and ensure that your backup plan can adequately address your future data protection needs.

Another consideration for planning database backups is long-term storage. Depending on the data's size and change rate, it is probably going to be unrealistic to retain all your backups indefinitely. There also comes a point at which a backup has outlived its usefulness. For example, an organization is unlikely to restore a backup from five years ago.

For database backup planning, organizations must come up with a policy that allows them to retain backups for whatever period of time they deem useful, but without completely depleting the backup storage in the process.

Finally, if you are tasked with coming up with a database backup strategy, you must consider how much it will cost to implement that strategy.

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