Keys to Defending Yourself and Your Business Against Digital Disaster
Disaster can strike anywhere and anytime. Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes can cause severe damage and loss, but they are not the only things that can cripple critical information and communication technology systems. For personal as well as corporate computing, disaster means the failure or loss of any communication channel, the technical infrastructure or data store.
The important question facing computer users and network administrators alike is, how prepared are we for a quick recovery in the event of a disaster?
Data loss is Costly
Even though the majority of businesses today rely on information technology, many do not stop to think about what could happen if their computer system fails them. In fact, surveys show that more than 70% of the total PC users do not have back up storage for their files.
Losing data can be costly, for individuals and for business. Even where lost data may be recoverable, depending on the cause of loss, it can be an expensive proposition. When one considers the material losses of a fire, or flood for example, personal mementoes such as family photographs cannot be replaced. The same applies for business when proposals, presentations, financial records or other intellectual property are wiped out by a hard-drive crash, lost laptop, or cracked data disc. The following statistics paint a telling picture.
These statistics by themselves are sobering. But they provoke even greater cause for concern when considered against the continued growth in technology use and trend from desktop to mobile computing. Simply put, critical data loss could be a fatal wound to a company.
This is why regular data backup should be a top priority for all businesses or persons that rely on any form of electronic data storage –whether on PCs, laptops, tablets or mobile phones.
The reason to make backups is quite straightforward: mitigate against data loss. Data loss can come in many forms:
- Hardware Failure: mechanical devices such as traditional hard-drives are prone to failure, often without warning. Also memory cards, USB-sticks and even CDs can break or fail.
- Human error: Accidentally deleting or overwriting a file for example or dropping your laptop. It’s easy to make a small mistake.
- Theft: From cyber-attacks to lost or stolen laptops, hard disks or memory cards/-sticks. Laptops and tablets are prime targets for theft, but your network and computer servers can also fall victim to computer hackers.
- Software/virus corruption: Virus or malware infection, faulty software, failed backups or configuration complexity.
Advance Planning Key to Swift Recovery
It takes time and careful planning to create and implement a backup and recovery plan. You need to figure out what data needs to be backed up, how often the data should be backed up, and more. When creating your backup and recovery plan, consider the following:
How important is the data?
The importance of data can go a long way in helping you determine if you need to back it up—as well as when and how it should be backed up. For critical data, such as financial records, email, system configurations and corporate databases, you may want redundant backup sets that extend back for several backup periods. Even for less critical data you will need regular backups that can be recovered easily.
How often does the data change?
The frequency of change affects decision on how often the data should be backed up. For example, critical data that changes daily should be backed up daily.
How quickly do you need to recover the data?
Time is an always important factor in creating a backup plan. Your recovery plan should reflect that in ranking which systems need to be returned online in which order. Ideally, your disaster recovery plan states how long recovery will take which systems users can expect access to. For example, you might determine that recovery will be completed in 48 hours, and essential data will be guaranteed only until the end of the previous fortnight.
Do you have the equipment to perform backups?
Performing timely backups may require backup devices and sets of backup media. If you have backed up online, recovery will mean having an Internet connection and an access device.
Who will be responsible for the plan?
Ideally, someone should be assigned as a primary contact for your organization’s backup and recovery plan. This person may also be responsible for performing the actual backup and recovery of data.
Do you need to store backups off-site?
Storing off-site copies of backup data is essential to recovering your systems in the case of a natural disaster. In your off-site storage location, you should also include essential hardware apparatus and copies of the software you may need to install to reestablish operational systems.
Do you need a cloud-based solution?
Internet-based backup and recovery solutions are increasingly popular, and affordable. Businesses have to assess the pros and cons of online solutions, keeping legal, connectivity and speed of retrieval factors in mind.
Protect Your Digital Assets
We are living in a digital age. Our increasing reliance on electronic data demands that we invest appropriately in protecting our digital assets. The principles outlined here can apply to your home as well as to your office. Take the time to make sure you and your organization are well prepared to ‘backup your business’.