The benefits of data recovery

Data loss can be catastrophic for businesses, causing costly downtime and the loss of valuable customer information. finds out how data recovery can save you when you’re in a pickle.

For fast-growing companies, time constraints often make data backup a low priority. Yet, with the amount of data stored on servers, computer hard drives and portable storage devices amounting to terabytes (thousands of gigabytes), taking precautions could save a headache in the long run.

JJ Wood at hazardous area compliance firm Inglewood Engineering Consultancy suffered a hard disk failure on a RAID 5 system, a storage device considered to be particularly reliable: ‘We had been told that the chances of such a loss were very slim, but that’s simply not the case.

‘After a multiple disk failure the data, which is of a sensitive nature and very important to our company, was almost unrecoverable. Eventually we were able to restore it with the help of a data recovery firm and, as a result, set about improving our backup procedures. People just aren’t aware that one has to check and verify a backup system constantly.’

Keep checking

Andrew Unsworth of IT services specialist Willow Starcom says: ‘Systems that are not monitored on a regular basis are more prone to failing. Most people believe they are backing up, but often ignore error messages. Really, you need to weigh up the importance of your data and decide how much downtime your company can afford and what your steps would be in such an event to ensure business continuity.’

Kevin Long, managing director of Alexander Solicitors, had a server stolen and a tape backup fail. ‘We had no idea you needed to keep testing data on a digital audio tape (DAT) system and ended up losing everything that we process on a day-to-day basis. It cost us lots of time and money,’ he laments.

But data recovery came to the rescue. Long adds: ‘Eventually we were able to retrieve all the data and installed a fully automated backup system. It’s given us peace of mind. When one of our accounts programs was corrupted more recently, we were able to get all the data back very quickly without hassle.’

Take extra care

Unexpected power surges, viruses, spilt cups of coffee and simple wear and tear can all cause serious data loss. Moreover, because of the mobile nature of laptops, they are especially prone to accidental knocks that could displace mechanical components and prevent you from getting to vital customer information.

Ross McCabe of data recovery firm Ontrack, claims that 89 per cent of companies fail to allocate any budget for data recovery and 78 per cent have experienced data loss in the past 12 months. He is keen to point out that there is no need to panic if you lose data: ‘There’s usually a good chance that you can retrieve most of the data, but one important thing to note is that all too often, people make the situation worse by trying to have a go themselves.’

These ‘have-a-go-heroes’ will usually end up doing more harm than good, he explains, by running simple computer programs that come with your operating system. McCabe says that often the best thing to do is turn the machine off and contact your IT department or a professional.

Prevention, as they say, is better than the cure. ‘But a lot of people invest in such preventative measures as virus software and simply don’t keep it updated,’ adds Unsworth.

The result can be unpleasant bits of code, which can come from a variety of sources. ‘USB sticks from home and infected email attachments are a typical source of this malware, which is designed to damage your system,’ says Andrew Brown of internet security firm SonicWall, ‘so you have to have a policy in place that details how you will handle such a situation. You could even set up a system to create “restore points”, to return the system to its status five minutes or an hour ago and avoid having to send your system away to recover corrupted data.’

See also: Creating a disaster recovery plan for a small business

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