ServiceNow backup retention policy explained

The default ServiceNow backup retention policy has changed. A reduction in ServiceNow’s maximum retention period means some organizations may need to revise their backup and disaster recovery procedures. 

ServiceNow Backup Retention Policy FAQ

How Long is the ServiceNow Backup Retention Period?

ServiceNow retains full backups for a maximum of 14 days. Formerly, full backups were retained for 28 days. The change was made effective as of May 8th 2023.

How Are ServiceNow Backups Created?

ServiceNow creates backups using their advanced high availability (AHA) architecture. Both full backups and differential backups can be created and they are taken automatically, without input from the end-user.

What Is the Difference Between a Full Backup and Differential Backup?

A full backup encompasses the entire ServiceNow instance, whereas a differential backup only backs up data that has recently changed. 

This is important to note because differential backups are only retained for seven days. This means restoring an instance due to data loss that occurred outside of the seven day period, requires a full instance restore. 

How Often Are ServiceNow Backups Created?

Full backups are created every seven days with differential backups created every 24 hours.

Organizations should note that AHA backups cannot be scheduled or performed on-demand

ServiceNow states: “Instances are automatically backed up daily during non-peak business hours on schedules defined by ServiceNow. The timing of existing backup schedules is not adjusted.”

However, ServiceNow does partner with integration providers, and hosts native integration applications on the platform that enable more control over your ServiceNow data backups.

How Do I Check When a ServiceNow Backup Was Created?

Users can check which backups are available for restoration by accessing the “List of backups for the instance” Service Catalog Item on the Now Support Portal. The data and time the backup was created is listed alongside available backups. 

Backups outside of the retention period are not listed. 

Can I Extend the ServiceNow Backup Retention Period?

In their documentation, ServiceNow states: “[the] backup architecture is not designed to provide archival records.” As such, organizations that want to retain backups and archived records for longer periods require purpose built solutions. 

ServiceNow cite a number of circumstances where it is desirable “to use more traditional data backup and recovery mechanisms” including:

  • where a customer deletes some data inadvertently
  • where a customer’s data integration or automation is misconfigured or malfunctions

In such cases, organizations risk permanent data loss, their reputation and customer satisfaction, and other consequences associated with regulatory non-compliance.

For more control over ServiceNow backups, including how long they are retained, check out ServiceNow partner, Perspectium’s backup and disaster recovery capabilities.

ServiceNow Restore FAQ

How Do I Restore a ServiceNow Instance?

To restore a ServiceNow production instance using ServiceNow’s AHA architecture, users must open a case via the Now Support Portal. ServiceNow’s technical support team handle the process. 

For non – prod/Sub Production instances, the technical support team have limited scope to intervene. For data loss on such instances, ServiceNow suggest various Self Service driven options.

To initiate a restore from a ServiceNow backup, ServiceNow customers are required to provide written approval as well as acknowledge the risks. 

ServiceNow recommends only restoring from a ServiceNow AHA backup as “​​a last resort because the impact of a restore from a backup could be more detrimental than the issue that prompted the action.”

For example, data created since the last restore is lost, and may create confusion among users and/or customers when the incomplete instance is restored.

ServiceNow data can also be restored using purpose-built backup and disaster recovery solutions.

Such solutions extend the capacity for backup and restore beyond ServiceNow’s 14 day limit and mitigate the risk of data loss associated with ServiceNow’s out-of-the-box functionality. 

How Long Does it Take to Restore a ServiceNow Instance?

Once initiated, “a backup will take at least as long as a full instance clone, plus time for overhead.” This could take 6+ hours or more. 

This does not include data made since the chosen backup was created (delta data). ServiceNow states a “long and labor-intensive process may be required to recover and migrate the delta data over to the newly restored instance.”

ServiceNow Instance Restore Timeline

  1. Restoration reported:
    1. All non-admin users blocked from accessing the instance to limit the creation of delta data.
    2. Export delta data to prevent data loss.
  2. Restoration initiatedTotal time: The same as a full instance clone.
    1. ServiceNow begin the process to restore the backup onto a new production instance.
  3. Restoration continuesTotal time: About 30 minutes.
    1. During this period, the will be offline
  4. Live 1/2Time: The same as a full backup + time taken to create a full instance clone.
    1. The instance is again online, but a backup must be created to prevent data loss after uploading delta data
    2. Backup restored to a TEST instance
  5. Live 2/2:
    1. Upload delta data on TEST.
    2. If there are new issues, upload delta data on production

Restoring a ServiceNow Instance with Purpose-Built Solutions

The time taken to restore data using purpose-built solutions varies depending on factors including the solution’s throughput and the amount of data within the backup. 

ServiceNow partner, Perspectium uses a modern approach to extracting and replicating ServiceNow data enabling massive throughput when extracting and restoring ServiceNow data.

Can I Get a Temporary Instance?

Unfortunately, ServiceNow does not typically provide temporary instances, citing “capacity management” as the reason. 

However, there are some scenarios where temporary instances can be made available.

A More Comprehensive Solution for ServiceNow Backup and Restore

Many organizations require more control over how their data is backed up, recovered and stored, including the capability to:

  • Retain full backups beyond ServiceNow’s 14 day limit
  • Schedule backups 
  • Control what data is backed up
  • Initiate disaster recovery/restore when required
  • Archive records 

Fortunately, ServiceNow is partnered with Perspectium, a data replication and integration-as-a-service provider specializing in:

  • ServiceNow data backup and disaster recovery
  • ServiceNow data extraction and replication
  • Integrating ServiceNow data with solutions such as analytics, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, machine learning and more
  • ServiceNow eBonding

Perspectium solutions are delivered via ServiceNow-native applications to support both business and technical users familiar with the ServiceNow UI.

Our applications are no-code for the end-user, with implementation and maintenance of the applications handled by our experts. 

With Perspectium, organizations have more control over their ServiceNow backup and disaster recovery procedures, and more control over how they use ServiceNow data within the enterprise.

Want to talk to get started with ServiceNow backup and disaster recovery? Talk to us.

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