- Data residing on computers can be lost due to virus attacks, deliberate destruction by outsiders (or insiders) and data corruption. Such losses could affect your business in several ways:
- You can find it impossible to make informed business decisions in the absence of relevant data
- You can face penalties and legal actions for not complying with government regulations, such as maintaining employee data, filing statutory returns and so on
- You might be unable to pursue claims against your debtors or defend claims by your creditors
- The costs and problems of recreating the original data might even drive you out of business
Thus, data loss can lead to extremely serious and costly results. You protect yourself against this danger through a good data recovery management system.
A sound data recovery management system would ensure that:
- Chances of data loss are minimized, and
- Lost data are quickly recovered in a usable manner.
The following information provides insight on data recovery management issues.
Backing up the data, in the hope that it can be restored if the original data is lost, was the traditional practice. Data was backed up on to magnetic tapes that were stored safely at another location. It was assumed that this would protect data even in the case of a fire or natural disaster as it could be restored any time.
Tape was the preferred medium of backup because it was less costly compared to disks.
However, there are a number of problems with this strategy:
- Both backup and restoration of data were extremely slow with tape compared to disk
- Considerable time would typically be involved in locating the relevant tape, bringing it to the office from its safe store and restoring the data to the main system. The consequent disruption of operations could be intolerably serious.
- Even if the data on tape was not corrupted, the restored data might prove unusable owing to several factors, including a change in the operating environment
It was soon found that simple backups could not ensure timely and reliable recovery of data when needed. Full mirroring of critical data and applications on redundant servers and such other practices began to be adopted.
Costs of disk storage have also come down significantly to make disk backup affordable. However, unless you have a carefully worked out policy for data recovery, you can still be incurring unnecessary costs and yet might not be able to restore data when needed.
A sound data recovery management policy would have the following elements at a minimum:
- It’s a carefully worked out policy and not just an ad hoc exercise.
- It assesses the value of different kinds of data arising in the business. Not all data have the same importance. Some are critical data. Others are just history.
- It considers the costs and times involved in different alternatives and assess these against the criticality and timely recovery of each type of data.
- It includes a clear document and data retention policy. Keeping unnecessary data and documents means wasting space, equipment and money.
In addition to policy, the aspect of implementation would also be carefully developed.
- The technology to be adopted for backup on a continuing and automatic basis
- The practices to be adopted for such needs as recreating the data as from any point of time and under the original environment
- Procedures for regular testing of backups to ensure that they are still recoverable and usable
- Procedures for recovering data to make them available in time to meet operating needs. This might differ from one kind of data to another
- A continuing review of changing needs, and actual data loss and recovery events, to identify changing requirements and take timely actions
Traditionally, the emphasis was on backup. Backing up is only a means to an end. The end is the ability to recover the data if the original is destroyed. It’s on this end that a good data recovery management system turns its focus.
Backed up data might not be recoverable in a usable form later. So your attention should be on ensuring that satisfactory recovery would be possible when needed. This needs attention for several factors.
It’s this focus that’s reflected in the policy and procedures discussed above.
One key element of data recovery management is attending to the environment. This means two things.
One, it involves recreating the environment under which the original data was created. The data might not be usable otherwise.
Two, it means adapting the data recovery management itself to new developments. Existing policies and procedures might be less than optimal under new conditions.
It’s thus necessary to tailor your data recovery management to suit the changing environment as it affects your organization. This is the significance of the continuing review of the policies and procedures mentioned earlier.
Don’t let your data face the kind of risk indicated at the beginning. Every day, new kinds of viruses are appearing and hackers on the Internet are improving their ability to crack the toughest of security measures.
A good document management system can be your best bet in such a context. Such a system would include several of the data recovery management tasks. Most systems would typically include continuing data protection features and some might even provide data recovery facilities.
Get a good document management system.