Data Backup - How Safe is Your Data?

by : Taylor Michaels

Do you backup your data? I know many of you probably do, as you should. Data loss can ruin your business, and cause untold heartache when losing precious photos and personal information. How do I know this? A few years ago, (late 1990's) I suffered a complete, unrecoverable, hard drive failure on one of my primary computers. Luckily, I wasn't nearly as "digital' back then, and had most of my important data "backed up" in hard copy.

The data loss I suffered from that hard drive failure was still very inconvenient. I spent weeks trying to replace everything I had lost, but still ended up missing quite a few very important items that I simply could not reproduce. I had several digital recordings of friends, and family members, pictures, documents, licenses, software etc. that were gone forever. After piecing my life back together over the course of those next several weeks and months, I vowed to myself that I would never endure such a thing again.

My data backup routine has undergone several revisions over the years, to the point that I felt very comfortable with my current situation. I have had data loss issues that this system has saved me from, but with the amount of data I have these days, both business and personal, any data loss would be disastrous. I currently have in place, three redundant backup systems, including dedicated file servers, and very large external drive systems in a complicated array, fire-walled, locked down, and automatic, which provides a nice feeling of security.

That sense of security has helped me sleep well at night for several years. I didn't know of anyone, this side of a major corporation, which had a better backup system in place. I have been in and around IT industry for years, and it would scare you to see how some fairly large businesses treat their backup systems.

I have seen more than one go out of business due to data loss. As a matter of fact, statistically, one in two businesses fail, following a catastrophic data loss. The costs of reproducing/recovering data are so high, (basic recovery starts around $3000 and increases exponentially with the amount of data to be restored) if it's even possible, that most simply can't afford it. Aside from that, without your data you are effectively out of business until that data is replaced.

So, what am I leading up to? Did I suffer a recent catastrophic data loss? Thankfully, the answer to that question is no. But, even with my overkill backup plan I still hadn't accounted for one thing, and a very large thing indeed. All of my data was still stored on-site! What finally shook me from my false sense of security?

The weather! That's right, the weather. The weather has been incredibly crazy lately, with tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. You name it. I read a story recently about a Dentist whose office was hit by a tornado. His hard-copy files and X-Rays, were found as far as 150 miles away. His electronic records are gone forever. He's one of the unfortunate one's whose business is gone with it. He didn't have a data backup plan, and everything he worked for was wiped out in an instant. Aside from the weather, my next greatest concern is fire. Even with my system, it is unlikely that any data would be recoverable in the event of fire. Would yours?

My sense of security has been false, my data not nearly as safe as I would like to have believed. Anything can happen, human error, software failure, theft, sabotage, fire, and flood. It does happen. It is not a matter of if, it's when. Statistically, on average at least once in 3 years, you will undergo an event which results in some from of data loss. Hardware failure ranks very high in that scenario as well. I decided I won't let it happen to me. That's why I recently decided that along with my on-site backups, I will also be performing off-site backups as well using an online backup service.

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