The risks associated with data loss are no small thing to consider – especially when you start to think about the time and money you’ve invested into implementing your Dynamics NAV system and the business value of its data. Your people’s jobs and the business you run rely on being able to access this information.
So, if you don’t know where your backups are, or if you are uncertain whether or not you have a process in place, then you need to reconsider and plan for a more developed Navision disaster recovery plan.
Below are a few tips that will help guide the development of your backup and disaster recovery strategy.
Establish Your Tolerance for Data Loss
How much data could you afford to lose? Is it an hour, a day, or a weeks worth of data? What is your recovery time tolerance?
With our NAV clients, they typically can’t afford to lose more than an hour or day of data.
An extreme example would be trying to recover a server and you only have a monthly backup in the Cloud. Not only data is the data a month old but downloading a VM from the cloud might take 1 -2 days. Are you willing to wait that long? This reality would change your strategy because if you can’t wait 1 -2 days, then you need to ensure that you have the right disaster recovery plan in place.
Backup Both Your Server and Application Data
There is a big difference between backing up an environment and backing up application data. A backup of application data can be done through SQL whereas a server backup requires a separate tool. Ideally, both backups would have local and offsite storage options.
You want to capture application data separately in case you have an application data loss so that you can simply restore it. However, if there is an issue with your server, then you have a bigger problem. So, if you want to be completely covered, having a backup for both is necessary.
Have a Hybrid (Local + Offsite) Backup Strategy
The optimal approach to disaster recovery will involve having both a local and offsite backup. A local backup will save you from a data loss or corruption, whereas an offsite backup will save you from a catastrophic site failure due to fire, theft, etc.
The local one is important because if you want to recover something quickly, this is your first point of recovery. However, if you choose to or can only do one backup, this is the order of preference:
- a manual local backup
- an automated local backup
- an offsite backup (cloud)
What does a local backup plan look like?
Ideally the local backup plan will have an automated maintenance plan that backs up application data and performs database maintenance tasks. The maintenance plan should also include a daily full data backup and an hourly transactions backup. This plan will provide you with up to an hour protection against data loss and ability to perform up to a day of full data recovery. In addition, a daily or a weekly server backup should be captured as well. Local backup storage should be large enough to hold two weeks to a month of backups.
What does an offsite backup plan look like?
You should create a weekly or a monthly copy of your local backup in the Cloud. Offsite backup should include a copy of application data and a copy of server data.
Test Your NAV Backups
Any effective Navision disaster recovery strategy also includes a testing strategy. This involves having an environment which is a duplication of your production (live) environment to verify that your data is restorable, that the integrity is preserved, and it’s useable. Depending on the situation, testing once a month or every quarter should suffice.
TIP: Mind the backup storage space. If you aren’t watching your disk space allocation for the backup, then eventually you may run out of space and your backups will not be completed. Compression techniques could be used to reduce the data foot print and allow more storage space without a hardware investment.
When you do a local backup, a SQL-based compression can yield a lot more available space without a cost increase. Having greater capacity allows you to have longer backup spans. Instead of two weeks, you could backup a month’s worth of data.
How to Move Forward with a Navision Disaster Recovery Strategy
Talk to your NAV service provider to determine what your current Navision disaster recovery plan should be.
Valid discussion points will be:
- How much data can we afford to lose?
- Are we able to backup an entire server/VM or only NAV data?
- Do we have local storage resources to store a copy of our backups?
- Do we have the resources to develop an offsite backup?