Certain key points to remember when developing a data recovery strategy are:
• Back up all critical data daily – to redundant servers, network drives, tape or optical drives, etc.;
• Do not forget to back up laptops. Many businesses do not realize the importance of data stored locally on laptops. Due to their mobile nature, they can easily be lost or damaged;
• Maintain copies of all backups off site. This is especially important if an entire server is damaged or destroyed. There is software available that automatically backs up all data to an off site server each day;
• Perform system maintenance regularly to ensure peak performance, prevent over-writing of data, and protect computers/servers from viruses;
• To help save time and money, have a disaster recovery plan in place that includes the contact information for a data recovery company in case the need arises.
Data today is more mission-critical than in the past. Users are now storing more information electronically than ever, the loss of which can have staggering financial, legal, and productivity ramifications on businesses and home users.
Most computer users rely on backups as their safety net in the event of data loss, but unfortunately backup tools and techniques are far from 100 percent reliable. While this is obviously a recommended practice, our company has found that 80 percent of its data loss customers regularly back up their data, only to find backups less than adequate at the critical moment they need to restore them.
Backups assume that hardware and storage media are in working order, that the data is not corrupted, and that the backup is recent enough to make a full recovery possible. While data backups would seem to offer an effective shield against the threat of data loss, backups do not always provide comprehensive data protection.
Data backup plans developed by many companies are unfortunately not fully realized or followed. If a backup is faulty, a simple data loss can quickly become a data disaster, and even if a backup is successful, it only contains data collected during the most recent backup session. Therefore, despite backup efforts, it’s still very possible that the most current data has been left unprotected. Also, in many cases employees’ desktops are unprotected, with IT departments leaving it up to the staff to follow established back-up proceedings. Too often they don’t follow through.
Luckily, “deleted” doesn’t always mean “deleted.” In many cases, data recovery is not just the most practical and economically feasible method for data protection and retrieval; it is the only method available. Data recovery specialists often offer their services in a variety of solutions, from do-it-yourself software that can be purchased off-the-shelf or downloaded online, to in-lab services that will restore lost data once a hard drive is sent in. If an Internet connection is maintained, data may also be recoverable through a remote recovery option that takes only a matter of hours, reducing downtime and total cost suffered due to the data loss.
Business can also choose what medium they’d prefer to receive recovered data in. For example, data recovery specialists have several options to offer their customers that need recovered mission-critical data sooner rather than later, including CDs and tape. Transferring data from these media can sometimes be cumbersome and time-consuming, which can be too costly for businesses needing to get up and running as soon as possible.
When a business finds itself in the midst of a data disaster, before assuming data is permanently lost, there are a few steps it must remember to ensure it can protect its vital information and get back to business as quickly and seamlessly as possible:
• Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter what it has been through;
• Do not shake, disassemble, or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged;
• Never attempt to dry water-damaged media by opening it or exposing it to heat, such as that from a hair dryer;
• Do not attempt to freeze-dry media;
• Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged devices;
• Do not use common software utility programs on broken or water-damaged devices;
• Send the storage media to a professional data recovery facility as soon as possible.
It is essential to make sure disaster plans are in place before disaster strikes – and to include within that plan a strong data recovery program. When a myriad of other issues need immediate attention – a plan can only help a business save time and money as they work toward recovering from such an event. Businesses that make sure their mission-critical data is backed up, and know what data recovery (and recovered data delivery) options are available are wisely putting themselves in a position to stay in business, without skipping a beat, immediately following times of crisis.
Greg Olson joined Ontrack in 1990 and currently serves as vice president of product line management and operations. For more information on Ontrack, visit www.ontrack.com.