Effect of Data Loss

By: James Walsh


Possible Effect on an Individual

Data can have different meanings for different entities. For an individual it may refer to something as simple as a compilation of all his or her contacts. One can just imagine the scenario where the individual finds, to his or her horror that the entire list of people's names and addresses has been wiped out.

It may have taken him or her several years of dedicated hard work to come up with the given listing. It may have contact details of the entire family and friends' circle. The address listing may be a compilation of existing and potential business associates. A loss of such data is bound to leave one speechless. It is unlikely that the loss can be overcome completely even after a long and dedicated effort is undertaken in that direction.

Similarly, data loss can occur owing to any natural or man-made disaster in the context of banks, insurance companies, brokerage houses, civic bodies or government agencies. One cannot even begin to fathom the implications it will have on such financial institutions as those mentioned herein.

Possible Effects on Companies

If an appropriate backup is not available, then the effects can be truly catastrophic. A loss of data by a bank, for example, may translate into chaotic situations at the bank branches. It will not be possible for people to indulge in very basic functions such as deposit and withdrawal of money. Making of banker's cheques, updating of client accounts, in effect the A to Z of banking will come to a halt.

In case of insurance companies the effect of data loss will be equally devastating. It can wipe out the entire details regarding the company's customer base. People may not, in fact, most likely will not, be paid dividends on time. The salaries of the staff will get stuck and there may be no way of making any sense out of the entire mess. As most of the data regarding clientele is stored digitally on hard disk drives, if it is lost, then there may be no way of contacting the customers and informing them of both the problem and its implications.

If data is lost, then in the absence of appropriate backup, it may not be possible to recover it completely. This will obviously damage the chances of the company to get back on to its feet. It is not at all uncommon for companies to be forced to shut shop owing to extensive data loss.

There may be cases where a given company has made adequate backup facilities to face a data loss contingency. However, all such efforts may come to naught if it fails to operationalise its backup on time. Not only it may be that all the latest inputs in its database have not been copied, this may also lead to another set of problems for the company.

At times it may be possible that the lost data was central to the operations of other applications. If such critical data is lost, then other applications that are dependent upon the lost data will also fail to get operationalised. Even in this case, the final result will be as devastating as not having any backup in the first place.

In today's situation, when the internet is staking its claim as a communication network of great primacy, the loss of data on the internet may mean that a message of something of importance may not reach the individual concerned in due time. It can have very harmful effect if the purpose behind the communication was of an urgent nature. It can be the medical reports of a critically ill person, details of some tenders or simply a reply to some important customer on a given query.

In its inability to communicate with the customer base, a company may find its sales being affected negatively. The sales aspect apart, the manufacturing processes may also be negatively impacted. It can slow down or simply halt virtually all operations of any company.

Therefore, it is of vital importance that all companies develop and implement disaster contingency plans. These plans should take care that the backup is stored away from the source of primary data. They should also take into account that the time lapse between the loss of data and its adequate recovery is not overtly long.

Data Recovery
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