The Original IT Company

Five Shortcuts to Losing Your Data (Yes, You Read That Right)

August 04, 2015

Though our title is rooted in sarcasm, it’s designed to get your attention on this key topic: preventing data loss.  

Let’s explore data loss from a dope’s point of view (hint, you don’t want to be a dope). A fundamental responsibility of any information technology professional, as well as any C-level executive, is to ensure that the data upon which any company is created is protected - scrupulously following these shortcuts should also ensure that you lose not only your data but your job as well.

A friend of mine recently got hit by the CyptoWall malware, which encrypted all of his data then held him ransom demanding $500 to give him the keys to unlock the data. He didn’t have the proper backup in place to recover his data, nor the antivirus program on his computers to prevent the malware in the first place. There are hundreds of stories like this. It is estimated the CyptoWall authors have netted $18 million dollars so far this year, that’s 36 million people (and firms) who were caught with their proverbial pants down.

Here are five surefire ways to lose your data:

Ignore hardware failure

Hardware failure is the leading cause of data loss. Whether it’s the hard drive in your PC, or a failing server, Mr. Murphy always pays you a visit when you least expect it. By the way, the tape backup some of you are still using is one of the most unreliable means of backup in existence today! It’s pretty simple to setup a disk to disk backup solution that performs a regular and comprehensive backup of all your data (and operating system) to a separate piece of hardware. Replicating that backup to an offsite location (usually in the “cloud”) ensures you remain protected even from theft, fire or other disaster. Be sure to ignore protecting yourself from hardware failure… I’m sure your hardware is the exception.

Human error

You are saying to yourself “I’m ok! My guy tells me we are all backed up on the latest backup technology.” Great! Ever check it out? Human error is the second leading cause of data loss. You put your trust in someone to do your backups, but do you check to ensure the backups are OK? Sadly of the network assessments I’ve performed over the past two years, all but one had failures in their backups – all the data wasn’t backed up, or the backups stopped running, and NO ONE PAID ANY ATTENTION. You need to make sure you not only have a backup, but you keep multiple revisions of backed up data to ensure you can properly recover. Test regularly to make sure you not only have a complete backup, but you can restore anything at any time. Don’t worry, you pay the monthly bill to your IT guy so I’m sure your data is safe.

Software corruption

Software corruption is the third leading cause of data loss. This one is tough, as software corruption may go undetected for several days or even weeks. Usually someone in your office stumbles upon something that isn’t right in the data, or finds certain records can’t be opened, only to realize you’ve had a software corruption that occurred days ago. Remember my previous mention of keeping multiple revisions of backed up data? That’s the only way to be able to wind back to a point in time prior to the corruption and recover your data. I know you said you have a backup offsite with your favorite cheap backup service. I’m pretty sure for the few dollars you are spending, they’ve got your back, so don’t sweat it.

Computer viruses and malware

It’s not a matter of if you will get hit with a virus or malware, it’s when you will get hit! 1 in 4 computers get hit during their lifetime (typically three years). Why should you think you won’t get hit? How fast can you recover from your backup to get your data back? There is a multilayer defense against viruses and malware. Start with a great firewall that is managed by a competent vendor to proactively protect against malware threats. Then make sure every machine has a superb antivirus program that is up to date, and there is no way for a user to disable it. What do you think the final layer is? If you said “Backup”, you get a gold star. All the backup principles above apply hear. The free anti-malware program you installed should be good enough. Forget about the fact that the Target debacle in 2013 could have been stopped if the IT people had a commercial anti-malware program installed instead of the free one.

Gambling with disaster

Let’s be real, disasters are by no means the leading cause of disaster. Yet our phones ring off the hook when a hurricane is approaching – everyone wants to know if their data is backed up. Heck, why don’t we walk around outside in a thunderstorm and enjoy the fury of mother nature? Getting wet can be invigorating! It’s not the odds of getting hit with lightning that scares us (about 1 in 500,000) – it’s the consequences we’d suffer if we did get hit (1 in 10 die, 8 in 10 are severely disabled)! Mr. Murphy doesn’t let you know when he’s about to light a fire at your office, or flood the upstairs right over your servers. In the off chance you pull the short straw and get hit with a disaster, having your data safe in an offsite location, and being able to recover it all in a timely fashion is the only way your business will survive a disaster. The only disaster we ever have in South Florida are hurricanes, and you have plenty of warning when those are approaching, so don’t waste your money on storing your data offsite.

If you missed it, follow the italicized advise above and you are sure to be a dope, lose your job and likely your entire business. My advice, don’t be duped like a dope. Make sure your data is properly backed up, and you know it’s being checked daily, and tested at least monthly that the backups are fully recoverable. If nothing else, you’ll sleep better at night knowing Mr. Murphy will get foiled when he throws his wrench in your works.

If you are wondering whether your data is properly backed up, and your current IT strategy is a sound one, feel free to give us a call (954-920-9604). We’d be happy to chat with you on the phone, or drop by your office for a conversation. A second opinion should always be welcome… but you’ve got to ask for it!




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