What Is Backup Validation?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Backup validation is a strategy that has to do with checking and verifying the success of an information backup of a database or other files used routinely on a network. The goal of any backup validation process is to make sure the backup was successful and the data involved was not damaged or corrupted in any manner. Doing so helps to ensure that if some type of catastrophic situation should occur that destroys the main database, the backup sources can be used to successfully rebuild the database.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

The process of backup validation involves examining every aspect of the backup process. This usually begins with an examination of the function of the backup protocols used to manage the copying and storing of essential information. The idea is to compare the data housed in the main database against the copies of the data and make sure nothing has been lost as a result of the software used. If and when any issues are discovered, this can lead to identifying the origin of the issue and making changes in the protocols so that the integrity of the data is kept intact. This is easily one of the more basic approaches to validation, and can be employed by both businesses and home networks.

Another important aspect of backup validation has to with what is known as capacity planning. The idea here is to make sure the procedures used to back up data are sufficient to handle the increasing load of information that is processed at each backup session. At the same time, attention is paid to the amount of capacity left on the resources used to receive and store the backed up data. Planning in advance makes it possible to know when additional resources must be secured in order to prevent a breakdown of the data already backed up and also to ensure that new data can continue to be copied, stored, and retrieved with ease.

While a basic backup validation can be done by some users and system administrators, it is also possible to outsource this function to a vendor partner. Typically, a consultant will know how to read log files associated with the backup activity, assess the quality of the copied data, and also project future capacity needs. From there, the consultant can make suggestions on how to refine or alter the backup processes so that the captured data remains uncorrupted and can be easily accessed in the event of an emergency situation.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@allenJo - It’s amazing how quickly we run out of shared hard drive space on the network drive at work. We keep trying to back up stuff to the shared network, only to find out that we’re down to the last few megabytes of data.

Seriously, I keep telling our system administrator just to buy a bunch of 1 terabyte drives and hook up them up together so we can have more room than we need, at least for the foreseeable future.

The stuff that takes up the most space is enterprise database applications and it’s impossible to know how much space at one time we’ll need for those applications. It’s better just to buy tons of space. Hard disks are cheap anyway.


@Charred - I do software development and built a database application for a client once. The client also wanted the capability of backing up their database.

I told them just to make a copy of it; but they wanted something more, like an actual button that would backup the database to some location and also give them the ability to do a full restore as needed.

Naturally this took some more work on my part but I did it. After each backup, the code in the application would compare the table row count between the source and backup database to make sure that they matched. There were probably more thorough approaches but it worked for the client.


There are many ways to do a backup. One method I learned about is creating a “ghost” of your hard drive, where everything is replicated exactly as it was on your hard drive.

Usually in this kind of situation the software that you are using to do the backup will do the validation for you. It will compare your hard drive against the ghosted files to make sure there is no difference.

I don’t think that there is any way that you can do that kind of backup on your own really. The software does a byte by byte analysis to make sure that everything is in sync.

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