The capacity to recover ServiceNow records is a must-have for any organization using the platform. 

Data loss is an all-too-familiar trait of modern, data-driven enterprises. Both user error and system failure can have organizations scrambling to recover ServiceNow records. 

While data loss is something organization’s should attempt to prevent, it is also an inevitability that organizations can only mitigate against and be prepared for. 

A 2020 study from 451 research found that 22% of respondents cited software failure as a reason for outages and data loss, making the most common.

The same study found that lost worker productivity was the most common consequence, affecting 49% of the respondents. With this in mind, the ability to recover from data loss events quickly, and thoroughly is key to minimizing disruption.

While ServiceNow has data recovery capabilities out of the box, they do not afford organizations with much control over the backup and restore process, or for how long backups are retained.  

Understanding how ServiceNow recovers records and the limitations of the process can help organizations avoid a data loss event with lasting consequences. 

Table of Contents:

  1. How ServiceNow Recovers Data
  2. Limitations When Users Recover ServiceNow with In-built Capabilities
  3. How to Recover ServiceNow Data Beyond the Retention Period and More
How to Recover ServiceNow Records

How ServiceNow Recovers Data

There are a number of inbuilt capabilities available to recover ServiceNow data available as standard, including:

Restoring From a ServiceNow Backup

ServiceNow’s inbuilt backup and restore capabilities only cover data loss within a relatively short 14-day backup retention period

Should a data loss event be uncovered within that window, organizations can restore a production instance by opening a case via the Now Support Portal. 

As well as the limited retention period, organizations have little control over the granularity of the restore process and can only restore the production instance in full. 

As the process must be initiated via the Support Portal, it can take some time before the restoration begins, and the restoration itself can take over 6 hours. Downtime is required during this period, limiting access to the platform.

As such, when restoring using ServiceNow’s out of the box capabilities, users need to assess the downtime required carefully. 

ServiceNow advises restoring from a ServiceNow-created backup should be a last resort because of the risk of data loss and instance unavailability.

Related post: 6 Ways to Restore ServiceNow Data Better

Delete Recovery Module

The Delete Recovery module allows users to restore deleted records and all associated changes within seven days of the delete event.

The Delete Recovery module is found via All > Rollback & Recovery > Delete Recovery.

Users can then select the record/item to be recovered from the Delete Recoveries list, before completing the Delete Recovery form. 

Once initiated, progress of the restore action and the count of references restored is displayed in a dialog box.

Deleted Records Module 

​​Users can recover deleted records that are in audited tables with the Deleted Records module. 

The Deleted Records module is found via All > System Definition > Deleted Records.

From here, users can open the deleted record they wish to restore. When rollback context is available for the delete, users can choose between the following:

  • Undelete With Related: Recovers the selected record, plus all cascaded deletes and database actions that resulted from the delete. 
  • Recover entire operation: If the selected record was deleted as part of another delete, all records from the parent delete are recovered including all cascaded deletes and database actions that resulted from the parent delete. If this is the top level delete, then this action functions identically to Undelete With Related. 

If rollback context is not available, the Undelete Record function is available to recover the selected record only. 

After selecting a recovery option a progress page shows the progress of the restore process, and a Restore Summary lists the changes and provides links for viewing the restored record.

Script Execution History Module 

The Script Execution History module provides a 7-day window for users to roll back the database actions of a script executed using the Scripts-Background module.

The Script Execution History module can be found via All> Rollback & Recovery > Script Execution History.

Limitations When Users Recover ServiceNow with In-built Capabilities

Due to the short retention period and other limitations, organizations should consider implementing a more robust backup and restore solution.

ServiceNow itself recommends using more traditional data backup and recovery methods for certain scenarios. 

For instance, if a customer accidentally deletes data or if data integrations malfunction or are misconfigured, the data may become unusable or inaccessible. 

ServiceNow’s default restore capabilities have several other limitations, including:

  • Users don’t have any in-built options to extend the backup retention period beyond the 14-day period for full backups, and 7-day period for the platform’s Deleted Records/Delete Recovery modules.
  • Restoring from a backup requires coordination with ServiceNow support before the process is initiated and can take several days, depending on the environment’s size and the need for granular data restoration.
  • The restore from backup process is intended to replace the entire database. Recovering specific data requires additional steps, further delaying the overall restoration.
  • Users do not control the backup schedule and cannot backup on-demand. As such, the user cannot control the amount of data created and stored since the last backup (delta data) and if lost, this data may be unrecoverable.

Due to these challenges, ServiceNow advises against restoring a production instance from backup unless absolutely necessary.

Snapshot: Recover ServiceNow Data with More Control and Beyond the Retention Period

Organizations must implement the proper measures to protect ServiceNow data and applications and mitigate the disruption when data loss inevitably occurs.

Thankfully, ServiceNow users have a platform-native option that upgrades the ServiceNow backup and restore capabilities.

Snapshot is a backup and recovery application created and delivered by ServiceNow partner’s Perspectium. 

It allows ServiceNow users to take control over the backup and recovery process, better equipping them to recover ServiceNow records in the event of data loss.

For example, Snapshot users have full control over:

  • The restoration process, allowing full recovery or the option to select only the required data.
  • The backup schedule, allowing users to automate backups at times that compliment the organization’s requirements and even backup on-demand. 
  • The frequency and number of backups, meaning the organization can create as many backups as required, as often as required. 
  • Initiating restores/recoveries without needing to open a case via the Now Support Portal.
  • Where data is restored, providing the option to restore to a different instance. 
  • The backup retention period, able to keep backups indefinitely. 
  • Use of ServiceNow during restoration events to ensure minimal disruption to operations. 

If you’d like to speak to us about upgrading ServiceNow’s backup and recovery capabilities with Snapshot, talk to us!

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