NovaBACKUP Security Blog

Measuring Backup Performance - Essential KPIs to Track


Measuring your backup performance may sound like a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be. Once you know what you need to track and understand how your backups are performing, it's actually quite painless. That's where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in handy. They help you measure the effectiveness of your backup and recovery strategy.

 Want to learn more about what KPIs in general are? Watch this less than 2 minute video from the Balanced Scorecard Institute.

Understanding the Importance of Backup Performance

Backup is a vital aspect of any organization's IT infrastructure. It ensures that your business-critical data and systems are protected and can be quickly restored in the event of data loss. However, simply having a backup system in place is not enough; measuring your backup's performance is equally important.

The ability to recover data in a timely manner is the key here (no pun intended). Slow backups and untrustworthy backup data could mean long downtime, lost productivity, and even lost revenue. That's why it is crucial to review and understand your backup performance, which you can track using your specific KPIs.

How Do I Define My KPIs?

Sometimes mistaken as KPIs (but they really aren't) are RTO - Recovery Time Objective - and RPO - Recovery Point Objective. These two “objectives” will help you define what your KPIs should be, or rather, what the value of your KPIs should be for your specific environment to indicate the health of your backup environment.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RTO describes the maximum amount of downtime which your organization can tolerate before the disruption seriously impacts operations and revenue. RPO describes the point in time that your backup solution must be able to recover to. 
Ask yourself: How long should your restore take to make the needed data available?  Ask yourself: How much data loss is feasible without ruining your business?
For example, if you can postpone meetings and orders for two days without risking serious damage to your revenue, your RTO is 2 days. For example, if your RPO is two hours, you need to be able to recover data that was created no more than two hours before the data loss event.

Just keep in mind that different types of data have different availability requirements. And, for example, higher availability requirements will impact your backups and dictate a shorter (or even continuous) backup interval. Your answer may be that certain functions or systems are more important than others, so understanding RTO and RPO will help you build prioritization into your backup strategy.

To learn more about how to approach and define your backup strategy, read our whitepaper.

By thinking through and determining your RPO and RTO, you can now define what your specific KPIs should look like, providing valuable insight into your backup performance.

Typical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Backup

There are several Key Performance Indicators you can track to measure your backup effectiveness and gain valuable insight into your backup performance and reliability.

These are the common KPIs we recommend tracking for your backup:

  1. Backup Success Rate/ Backup Failure Rate: This KPI measures the percentage of successful backups compared to the total number of backups attempted. A reliable backup system is indicated by a high backup success rate (or a low backup failure rate).
  2. Storage Capacity and Usage: This KPI tells you how much space you have left and whether you have enough space for your planned backup strategy of full and differential or incremental backups. Knowing your Backup Size is equally important here.
  3. Backup and Restore Time: This KPI measures the average time it takes to complete a backup or restore. It helps you evaluate the efficiency of your backup system and, more specifically, ensures that your Recovery Time Objectives are being met. This KPI goes hand in hand with the Backup Window you set for yourself - the time it takes to complete a backup.

These are the common KPIs we recommend tracking. And if you really like KPIs, there are many more you can add to your routine. But the ones listed above will get you started on understanding the health of your backup environment.

Want to talk about any of these KPIs and discuss what they should be for your environment? Or do you have any other backup-related questions? Feel free to contact us.