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Damage control: What to do if your business data disappears

How would your business fare if you lost your customer contact records, financial data or even just the last day’s worth of orders? Almost every company in this situation will experience some degree of productivity loss and some may also find themselves facing potential non-compliance penalties, missed sales opportunities, damage to reputation, and weakened customer confidence. 

It’s every company’s nightmare and, according to research from leading analyst firm, Gartner, data loss happens to at least 25 percent of organisations every year.

That’s why a putting in place a data loss plan is like purchasing an insurance policy for your business. The odds are a hard drive will one day fail or your software will corrupt, or a staff member may accidentally delete essential files. How you handle such a situation will determine whether the loss becomes a major disruption to your business, or an untimely but manageable hiccup.

The faster you recover your data, the faster you and your staff can get back to productive work. Therefore, it’s best to know before disaster strikes what options are available to you, where you are going to turn to and how you want to proceed with recovery so that any loss is minimised. To achieve this however, you need to understand the nature of the problem.

Backups won’t stop data loss

Many companies believe their backup system will protect them against data loss. Unfortunately, it’s not true. No backup system is 100 percent reliable as they can be affected by the same software corruptions and hardware failures that damage your everyday production system. Many backups are conducted hourly, daily or even less frequently. This means you can’t count on all your critical data being up to date. In addition, having a backup doesn’t mean you will be able to access all archived data due to the use of various file formats and numerous operating system updates. For business continuity, security and peace of mind you should have both a regularly checked backup system and a data recovery contingency plan.

In-house IT staff may not be enough

Industry analysts from Gartner and IDC claim that 30 to 40 per cent of all IT staff either have no data recovery plan in place or they don’t know how to correctly use it. Moreover, not every small or medium business has the dedicated staff or resources set aside to instantly manage the wide variety of recovery projects the company may face.

In some cases where the hardware is still properly functioning, commercially available data recovery tools can be successfully used by IT staff to recover lost data.  In other, more complex circumstances, data recovery requires a highly specialised skill set specifically addressing complex corruptions within storage devices, operating systems and file structures. Additionally, many data loss situations require the use of an ISO-5/Class 100 clean room environment, or call for spare parts for your device.  In these cases external help is essential.

Don’t rely on your computer or storage manufacturer

Manufacturers are experts when it comes to their systems and devices, but they are unlikely to have the same level of knowledge when it comes to data recovery services or the thousands of different file, data structures and formats available. When there’s a failure and you need to recover data, you require a provider with experience in your entire computer environment – from computer or storage device through to operating system, database and so on.  That provider should also have a relationship in place with your device manufacturer to ensure that your product warranty remains intact.

Planning in advance give you time to find the right data recovery provider for your needs

When you need to recover company data it’s important to understand that a poorly handled recovery effort can cause more damage and may lead to your data becoming irrecoverable. Therefore it pays to have the job done correctly the first time.

Don’t just leap for the lowest cost provider.

Look for an organisation with professional certifications and standards including:

  • In-depth knowledge and experience across all forms of operating systems, storage devices, file formats, and complex RAID/SAN/Virtualised environments;
  • A research and development team capable of quickly developing solutions when presented with a unique situation;
  • Relationships with equipment manufacturers so that your computer hardware warranties aren’t nullified by their work;
  • An ISO-5/Class 100 clean room environment that will protect your equipment
  • Up-to-date SAS 70 Type II certification for data recovery services

The odds are every business will face data loss at some point in time. With just a little bit of planning, losses and stress can be minimised. Putting a data recovery plan in place, in advance, provides management and staff with the reassurance of knowing exactly what has to happen, when and how to ensure the best chance of maximum data recovery.

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Adrian Briscoe

Adrian Briscoe

Adrian Briscoe is general manager Asia Pacific for Kroll Ontrack, a provider of cutting-edge data recovery services and software to business and home users. Based in Brisbane, Adrian oversees the Ontrack Data Recovery services and software for the company’s offices in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. He originally joined Kroll Ontrack as an Electronic Evidence Consultant in the organisation’s London office. Prior, Adrian spent five years in Hong Kong with PricewaterhouseCoopers in its Corporate Finance & Recovery division. Adrian has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, initially starting out as a protocol specialist in London, working with IBM mainframe, mini and desktop systems.

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