Thursday, October 19, 2017

Data Recovery Techniques to Avoid a Business Blackout

by David Zimmerman, CEO of LC Technology 

When a business of any size encounters a “blackout”, they lose access to the most precious company resource – data. Companies run on data, and firms that don’t want to lose customers or damage their brand should have a process in place for recovering from data loss and quickly moving forward. Thankfully, businesses can take steps to proactively lessen the chance of complete data blackout.


Develop a Detailed Plan

The first move companies should take to protect against a data blackout is to develop a plan. The plan should answer the big questions – what data do we have; where is it; who controls it? Creating a plan forces staff at all levels to think about data as an asset and their role in protecting data. The plan should not only dictate how data is stored and secured, but also categorize the information, for example by separating static data from fluidly-changing data.


Evaluate and Test the Plan

Testing the plan is essential to gauging how people and systems will respond to an emergency. Create benchmarks to see how long it takes to recover data from the cloud or offsite physical storage. IT should be able to follow a certain path immediately after data loss, so the rest of the business can continue working with minimal interruption. Deviations to the plan that are uncovered during testing should warrant a review of training procedures and review of the plan itself. Testing the plan should involve using various metrics to ensure you are not violating internal or regulatory policies, using proper encryption, and are performing tasks within certain timeframes.


Embrace Redundant Redundancy

Preventing a business “blackout” means preparing for contingencies. Consider what can go wrong and plan accordingly. Moving services and data to the cloud is a good move due to its falling costs, improved security, and reliability, but you should also consider using some on-premises storage. Your business needs constant access to data, and with the cloud being tied to internet access, it’s wise to have backup solutions to the most critical data.


Redundancy is achieved by backing up the backups. An on-premises solution combined with off-site hard drive storage and cloud storage provides a business with multiple layers of coverage. Storage is exceedingly cheap, especially compared to the costs of business interruption. Develop a comprehensive data backup procedure so every employee understands their role in ensuring data is preserved and how it can be safely accessed in a blackout situation.


Centralize Data

Moving data to a central secure location (that’s duplicated with backups) is essential for properly managing all of the information. During the planning process you should uncover all data sources such as old hard drives, digital cameras, and cloud accounts, and then develop a process for organizing the data in a specific centralized location. Organizing data makes it easier to control and companies can apply analytics to the data to find correlations that might have been previously overlooked. In a recovery event, retrieving data from a single source is inherently more efficient than diving into multiple sources.


Use the Cloud – But Understand the Risks

Moving data to the cloud provides a host of benefits. Workers can access data from any internet-connection, the company avoids management of server rooms and extra IT staff, and the costs of the cloud are at all-time lows. However, despite all of its promise, there are some risks to the cloud:

  • Companies have little recourse if a cloud provider has a glitch and loses important files.
  • Multi-tenancy cloud environments (Amazon, Google, etc.) present an increased security risk as hackers that breach cloud “neighbors” can often infiltrate the data of others sharing the same public cloud.
  • Some cloud services are not trustworthy. There’s typically not a benefit in choosing a smaller provider when the biggest firms have established themselves as leaders in security and accessibility.


Handle Devices Carefully

Many employees use their laptop or own external hard drive to store files instead of using company servers or the cloud. This places data at risk for loss, because of the fragility of these devices. Staff should be trained on how to handle their electronics safely by preventing drops or spills, and using the proper surge protection. Employees that capture video or photo content as part of their role should move content off of SD cards quickly because these devices are very fragile and prone to breakage. If a hard drive or SD card is damaged, then employees should also understand the procedure for recovering information. They should not attempt to do this themselves, but instead should look for expert help that can use various software tools to repair and recover data.

Data loss is a crippling event without proactive planning and the right technology. Companies that want to avoid business interruptions and possibly brand damage should embrace best practices for data recovery.