DEAK Software

Protect Your Data

Dominik Deák

Introduction

The above train wreck scenario actually happened to a business some time ago. They did not include data loss mitigation in their contingency plans. While the nature of the error in this example was unusual, the reality is that data loss is a very common experience for computer users [1]. Failure will inevitably occur in any IT environment. Smart business operators reduce the likelihood of data loss with planning and implementing good procedures for disaster recovery.

This article is a basic introduction to data protection strategies, intended to inform freelancers, contractors and small to medium sized business operators. If you are business manager, and if this topic is a grey area to you, contact your IT staff and start asking questions about their contingency plans. Has anyone devised and tested a disaster recovery plan? If so, did it actually work? If not, why not? What can they do about it? As for small business owners, chances are your contingency plans is mostly inadequate. In that case, consider hiring an IT contractor to give you advice about this topic.

Protecting Your Data

Plan for Disaster Recovery

Good planning is always the first step towards protecting your intellectual property assets:

Start implementing the plan by investing in reliable computer equipment.

Server Redundancy and Fault Tolerance

Specialist server hardware are built with fault tolerance in mind and sometimes come equipped with redundant systems to improve reliability. Redundancy should not be confused with backups. Redundancy implies making a computer system resilient to faults, interruptions and down-time. For example, RAID systems are used to build a redundant array of independent disks, which reduces the chance of immediate data loss if one of the disks ends up failing. Of course, many other strategies can be employed for implementing fault tolerance, including:

Redundancy and fault tolerance strategies only offer a first line of defence against data loss. It does not protect you against failures, such as human error, security breaches, files getting overwritten, systematic file corruption caused by malware and software bugs. You will need an independent backup system to mitigate such failures.

Blade Server
Some specialist server hardware are built with fault tolerance in mind.

On-site Backup Systems

On-site backup facilities are usually located on the same premises were the business operates. For example, one might run a local server that keeps a repository of file assets. The server also performs nightly backups by maintaining different versions of important files on a separate network attached storage. If something goes wrong, older versions of the files can be immediately accessed and restored. Of course, backups can be performed in many different ways, but that usually depends on the nature of data that is being handled. Few examples:

The downside of on-site backups is that data can be still at risk from facility-wide disasters, such as fire, flooding, theft, or sabotage. As an extra precaution, one should keep additional copies of backups off-site, or at least in a different building.

Cloud Based Backup Systems

Remote backup services offer a means to store copies of your data off-site. Cloud backups are completely independent of your business IT infrastructure, and they are usually managed by third party companies specialising in cloud computing services. Features and benefits of remote backups include:

Other Considerations

Backups alone should not be considered as a complete disaster recovery plan, because backup systems may not be able to restore the complex configuration state of a computer system. Here is a few examples of additional complications that you need take into account:

Of course, this is just a small generic list. Your business will have very specific requirements.

Final Points

References

  1. Kabooza Global Backup Survey, Kabooza, 2008, Date Retrieved 18 December 2017
    http://www.kabooza.com/globalsurvey.html