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Volume 32, Issue 2

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Monday, 30 March 2015 05:00

It’s 11 P.M. Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

Written by  Jaspreet Singh
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Data Loss


When it comes to data loss, it’s not a matter of if, but when. At some point, we’ve all lost data – either at work or on our personal laptop. Perhaps a file didn’t save properly or perhaps we didn’t schedule regular backups. Maybe our laptop was stolen or our mobile device got dropped or drowned. I’ve spent more than 10 years building data protection systems, and I’ve seen almost every disaster recovery situation you can imagine.

In celebration of World Backup Day today, I asked my colleagues to share some of the most shocking and, in other cases, amusing things they’ve seen in the world of data protection. Even if you’re more prepared than the individuals mentioned in the below scenarios, it can be helpful to review the good, the bad, the ugly and the “lessons learned” when it comes to data backup.

The Good: Stolen Passport Is Reissued Based on Laptop’s Backup File

Today’s cloud backup solutions are typically able to restore an entire laptop in less than an hour. In one scenario, a tech company had very robust data protection systems, and employees knew they didn’t need to fear loss of productivity in case of a lost device. One employee from India was visiting the U.S. on assignment, and the bag carrying his laptop was stolen. He knew the laptop wasn’t a tragic loss because insurance would cover a replacement model, and the company could easily restore his data to a new machine in short order. However, his passport was in his laptop bag, and he wouldn’t be able to return to India without it. Data protection systems only back up digital data; fortunately, the employee kept a photo of his passport on his laptop. With this recovered data and a copy of the police report detailing the bag theft, the employee was able to get a new passport issued and return home as scheduled.

The Bad: Laptop Goes Swimming and Surfaces Without Sales Presentations

A sales executive traveled to China for a week of pitches. Because his company’s data-protection solution didn’t handle remote backups, the presentations he built while on the road were not copied to the home office. Unfortunately, he dropped his laptop in the hotel pool and lost the slide decks he planned to use the next few days. To prevent this type of data loss from happening again, the company quickly implemented a cloud-based data protection solution that handles secure endpoint backup over the Internet.

The Ugly: IT Brings Email to a Standstill, Users Revolt

A large financial institution designed a centralized, network-share solution to backup Outlook files from employees’ laptops. The IT department wanted to better protect data on employees’ laptops, so they redirected all files from email to the company’s central network, where they were copied and shared back with the users. The problem was that the network slowed to a crawl and made Outlook’s search capability useless. So users revolted. Many started storing their Outlook files on a USB drive so they could bypass this entire system. Of course, the USBs weren’t backed up, and there was a huge, unmitigated risk for data loss that put the company out of regulatory compliance. The IT department quickly changed its strategy once it realized what users were doing. A comprehensive enterprise endpoint data protection system enabled employees to use their applications locally on their laptops and have all data backed up with no erosion of application performance.

The Funny: Storage Pros Know Who’s Gaming the System

A small team at a large IT services company decided to stream pirated movies during company time using company equipment. Being as tech-savvy as they were, members of this team spent considerable time and effort circumventing the firewall by creating a separate network gateway. To avoid automatically flagging the IT department to a breach of policy, they changed the file labels to look like computer code. The movies, like all things on the team members’ laptops, were being backed up. Enter the storage professionals. Routine data governance scans revealed more than 100 computer code files that were larger than a gigabyte, unusual for most coding projects. Soon, the movies were discovered, and the company was able to make appropriate changes in its data protection systems and employee data policies.

Bulletproof Your Backup Plan

Now that you’ve seen the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the downright Funny of data protection – just in time for World Backup Day – I encourage you to review your data protection strategy, assess your risk and implement new systems as needed. Several of the above backup examples show just how important your endpoint – i.e. mobile device – strategy is to business continuity. Cloud backup tools are one great way to address regional barriers deterring frequent backups. You’ll want to pick a data protection solution that can handle the amount and geographic distribution of your endpoints, as well as the governance controls your company requires. Don’t wait for your organization to become a data loss scenario; when it comes to backup, there’s no time like the present.

jaspreetAbout Jaspreet Singh

Jaspreet Singh is the founder and CEO of Druva, the leader in data protection and governance at the edge, a company dedicated to bringing visibility and control to business information in the increasingly mobile and distributed enterprise. An entrepreneur at heart, Singh bootstrapped the company while defining the product, sales and marketing strategies that have resulted in Druva's early success. Prior to founding Druva, he was a member of the Storage Foundation Group at Veritas. He also held a number of engineering specific roles at Ensim Corporation.