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Table 7-1 documents the steps involved in a full server recovery.
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Recovering the Data
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Step 1 2 3 4 5 6
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Operation Replace failed hardware or entire machine. Reinstall Windows NT OS. Install tape backup drivers and reboot. Perform full restoration of failed partition(s). Reboot system and verify that it s working. Bring system online and notify users. Sample Documentation of Restoration Procedures
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Time Taken (mm:ss) 25:00 30:00 10:00 120:00 15:00 15:00
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Running Total 25:00 55:00 60:00 180:00 195:00 210:00
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Table 7-1.
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The estimates in this table might seem very conservative. In some cases, it is much better to make an error in stating that it will take longer to recover data than it actually will. This accounts for any potential problems that might occur, without the need to change time estimates. Note that the time spent performing many of these steps could be reduced through different implementations. For example, if a hot standby server (that is, an existing server with a similar configuration) is available, it may not be necessary to repair the hardware fault and reinstall the OS. In the example in Table 7-1, this would save over an hour of time!
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Generating Test Restoration Scripts
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It is a good idea to test your system following the completion of any type of data restoration operation. In some cases, it makes sense to write actual SQL scripts for restoring information should a loss occur. As an example, a basic script file might automatically drop a database and re-create information from the backup of another database. Although having such scripts available can save a lot of time and reduce chances for errors, there are drawbacks. First and foremost, the scripts must be kept up-to-date. Whenever a change occurs in the backup process, a corresponding change must occur in the restoration scripts. In some cases, an inaccurate or outdated restoration script can be worse than not having one at all, since inconsistencies or even data loss might occur. A data restoration process might proceed according to the flowchart in Figure 7-1. The term script has a dual meaning when we re talking about databases. Another method of planning for data recovery might involve the generation of automatic SQL Server jobs or scripts that perform corrective actions. In 6, we looked at how SQL Server Agent can be used to schedule tasks to be performed automatically. Although au-
SQL Server 7 Backup & Recovery
Figure 7-1.
Flowchart for a data recovery plan
tomating database recovery generally isn t an easy task, properly tested scripts can alleviate much of the manual work involved in recovery and can prevent downtime. For example, in the case of the log file partition filling to capacity, a job that automatically deletes old backups and temporary files might keep your server in business while you order that additional hard disk. In creating your test scripts, you should take into account not only the availability and accessibility of your database server, but also any client or application changes that might be required. For example, if you need to redirect all of your client machines to a standby server, you ll need to know how to reconfigure the applications they re running to access another machine. All of these considerations must be made when generating restoration
7:
Recovering the Data
scripts. The time and effort required to create and maintain them will pay off when data loss or downtime occurs.
Delegating Roles and Responsibilities
Emergency response professionals have learned a lot about human nature when working in extreme situations. Perhaps one of the most important lessons they have learned is that roles and responsibilities should be specifically assigned to individuals involved in the emergency situation. If you ve ever seen a situation where emergency assistance is needed, you might have recognized the problem. Usually, someone telephones for help, but often there is a moment of confusion while people are trying to decide whether someone else has already called for help. A much better method is to point to a specific individual to perform the task. If this person is unable to do it, he or she can still call for the assistance of others. In any case, that person owns the issue and is responsible for seeing it through to completion. When planning for recovery, everyone must know their roles and responsibilities. In a crisis situation, be sure to do the following: w Notify IT personnel. In many cases, users might be the first to notice (or cause) the loss of important information. In such cases, it s important that they immediately notify the appropriate personnel. One of the worst things that can happen is for untrained personnel to attempt to fix the problem themselves. This can lead to even more downtime and permanent data loss. In environments that have them, this notification might involve calling a special phone number dedicated to high-priority issues. Notify affected users. One of the biggest problems related to downtime is that affected users rarely know what is going on. If a server is inaccessible, for example, a person might ask a co-worker to access the same resource. If he or she is unable to do so, one of them should call the help desk to report the problem. In organizations of any size, however, this can result in a flood of calls to the help desk and to IT staff. One way to avoid the deluge is to immediately place information regarding the downtime somewhere where users can easily find it. A company intranet or the please hold message for the help desk s telephone line is ideal. Users should know that they can check these places first for immediate notification of problems. These messages should include several pieces of information: When the error occurred Users should be aware of which data might be lost and how they might have been affected. For example, if an e-mail server went down, users would be able to determine which messages should be sent again. Recommendations on user actions In many cases, users can help alleviate the problem and can plan for its correction. For example, if a file/print
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