Disasters Are Inevitable; Data Loss Doesn’t Have To Be: 8 Noble Truths

To help organizations better understand the challenges of backup, disaster recovery and secure access, Acronis has created the "8 Noble Truths" of data protection. To view all 8 Noble Truths, please download the whitepaper. This is the seventh post in an eight-part series to help you protect your data:

How many times have you heard stories about people whose hard drives crash, or who run their phone through the washing machine or leave it at a bar? Mistakes happen, and hardware like laptops and mobile devices eventually fail. The median expected lifetime of a hard drive is six years, but more than five percent die within the first year. The devices themselves are valuable, but the data on those devices makes the loss even worse.

“While you might think your hardware is reliable, in reality it is not," Nat Maple, general manager at Acronis, writes on TechRadar. "Everything (yes, everything) fails, and once it does, all the important information you’ve stored on that device can be lost. In fact, it is not a question of if a piece of technology will fail — it is when.

Data Loss Culprits

Vulnerabilities within a business can also put data at risk, often without IT’s knowledge. In 2009, blogging platform JournalSpace lost all data on its main database. The culprit? A disgruntled IT employee who had access to the company’s systems. A Cisco survey found that 20 percent of IT professionals consider disgruntled employees as the biggest insider threat to company data.

The recent Heartbleed bug exposed another hidden risk to company data: malware. The Canada Revenue Agency was among the first organizations to publicly admit that it lost data after news of the Heartbleed vulnerability broke in April.  

Regardless of the cause — whether disgruntled employees, innocent human error, malware, freak accidents or even natural disasters — data loss can be permanent. Consider the medical records lost during Hurricane Katrina, or business’ system configurations, custom software code and patches lost during Hurricane Sandy.  

Data Loss: The Here and Now

You might say that your IT department is top-notch, but even the most prepared teams aren’t immune to data loss. A recent Microsoft Azure failure caused Dedoose, a data analysis company used by scientists and researchers, to lose more than three weeks of customer data. In another famous case, Pixar nearly lost “Toy Story 2” after an employee hit the “remove all” command. The company realized its backup hadn’t been working for a month, though it was able to retrieve the deleted content from an employee’s personal computer.

Data loss stories don’t need to end in disaster — that is, if the data is properly backed up. But many factors put data at risk, including outdated or nonexistent backup strategies. IT needs new generation approaches to data protection, combined with established tactics like the “3-2-1” rule, to mitigate data loss risks.

It’s human nature to assume that nothing will happen to your business’s data. But don’t ignore the reality: data loss is not a question of if, but when.

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[Image via Can Stock Photo]