How is a database backup like a portable generator with a gasoline leak? And why should you care on a beautiful sunny September morning? How does any of this relate to Business Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning and testing?  Read On!


Lack of Preparation

Until Superstorm Sandy in 2012, we had lived in our NJ town for 25 years without ever having a power outage for more than a few minutes. I thought it would never happen, and never prepared for it.  I had no portable generator or other storm supplies.

Then on October 8. 2012, I learned how important it is to anticipate and prepare for the the unexpected. We lost power for about 7 days when the storm ravaged our state.  Even after the power went out, I thought for sure it would be back on at any moment.  A transformer must have blown, I thought, or a tree came down on a wire, they just have to reroute the power! We don’t get power outages in Robbinsville!

By the time I learned that our sub-station was three feet under water and it would be days before we had power, not a generator was to be had anywhere in NJ. Even if Home Depot had any, we could not get out of our development to get there because of fallen trees. If only I had prepared…

I learned my Lesson

So this morning, for the 10th time in 5 years,  on this beautiful Sunny Labor Day, I went out to perform my twice-yearly test of the Generac GP 5500 Generator that I purchased a few months after Sandy when they again became available. The generator sits in my garage, waiting to be hooked up the transfer switch that I installed when I purchased it.


I pulled the generator into the driveway, opened the gas valve, and gasoline proceeded to leak all over my driveway!  After pulling up a you-tube video, I learned the the cause was likely to be a stuck float in the generator.  In order to fix it, I had to take apart the carburetor, and for that I needed a 3/8 inch socket with a 1/4 inch drive and a pivoting socket extension. Why am I telling you this? Because in the middle of a hurricane, you don’t want to run out to Home depot to get a 3/8 inch socket with a 1/4 inch drive and a pivoting socket extension which you likely do not have in your garage.

Are you as prepared as you think you are?

Back to my story, so since I don’t already have the aforementioned tool in my garage, I decide to ask my friend and neighbor if he happens to have something that might work for my task. He did not but while in his garage talking about generators, he told me about his nice new generator that he bought a few years ago that was still sitting in a box in the garage. He had never tested it or even removed it from the box!  I thanked him for looking for the tool and then left him with some friendly advice to test the generator soon, and offered assistance to install a transfer switch to make the generator even more useful when the time comes. It made me wonder how many people have generators sitting in a box in their garage.

All Fixed

After a trip to Home Depot to get the proper tool, which I could not have taken during Sandy, I took apart and cleaned the carburetor, with the help of the you tube video, which I could not have watched during Sandy, and the generator started on the first pull, with no leakage! So now at least when it comes to power, I am better prepared for the next storm.

Back to Database Backups

So what does all this have to do with database backups? The generator sitting in the box in my neighbor’s garage is like a database backup sitting in your data center, but that you never tested.  It makes you feel good that it is there, but when the wind is blowing and the rain is falling and the disks are crashing and the data center is filling up with water, you don’t really know that it is going to work.

However, a database backup in your data center (with an off-site copy) that gets tested, cleaned up, and maintained on a regular basis, is more like the generator sitting in my garage that is far more likely to be ready for the next storm.

Which database backup would you rather rely on?

If you would like to discuss how to ensure that your backups will work when you need them, give us a call at (888) 809-4803 x 700 and if you have further thoughts on the topic, please add comments!

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