Crying Over Spilt Milk – The Significance of Online Backup

Tue, 26/04/2016 - 10:22
Data Backup

In recent events where a prominent website hosting company, 123-reg, “accidentally deleted” a substantial portion of their customers’ data (see full story here), the significance of online backup procedures within any company was emphasised once again by this catastrophic episode.  

123-reg admitted to accidentally deleting a large number of Virtual Private Servers (VPS) during a routine maintenance clean-up procedure. It is believed that a coding error is to blame for the major loss of data. It was reported that 67 of the 115000 servers were affected, and that data recovery specialists have managed to revive only 40% of them. After a week of silence, 123-reg also finally admitted that some of their roughly 800 000 customers’ data will remain permanently deleted, despite efforts to resuscitate the servers.

Clients Losing Faith

The nature of the 123-reg’s online backup procedures and disaster recovery plan remains unclear, but one of their clients, INNMaster, released a statement wherein they declare to no longer have faith in the company’s at fault’s online backup and data recovery capabilities. INNMaster have now initiated their own disaster recovery by running from their backup server while they rebuild their VPS.

The fact that INNMaster had their own online backup procedures and disaster recovery plan in place shows dedication to the safety of their customers’ data, and saved them from facing catastrophic consequences if that data was in fact permanently deleted. Whilst INNMaster took initiative not to put all their eggs in one basket, not all of 123-reg’s customers invested in personal and alternative online backup services and procedures.

The True Cost of Data Loss

In a previous article, we delved into what data loss can cost a company, and a staggering 20% is allocated to unintentional action, or in layman’s terms, human error. So if human error contributes to such a large percentage of data loss incidents, shouldn’t we as humans, when responsible for large amounts of data, take preventative action by implementing online backup procedures and disaster recovery plans?

It is important to note the difference between off-site backup procedures and online backup (or cloud backup) procedures. Online backups are not vulnerable to data loss disasters that happen at the source i.e. on site (see this article where we explain the differences in more detail). So, even if you manage to “rm -rf” your server “accidentally” and effectively delete all information, including offsite backups that were mounted as local drives, online backup procedures can ensure that you recover your data.

A Few Tips from the Experts

As simple as it may sound, there are a few things to keep in mind when engaging in online backup actions. Here are some tips when it comes to effectively managing your online backup strategy:

  1. Trustworthy online backup service providers. Ensure that the online backup service provider you choose to engage with has a reputable history in online backup procedures and offers you ethical and effective software that suits your specific online backup needs.
  2. Do regular check-ups and “data recovery fire drills”. It is extremely important to regularly check that your online backup procedure is running according to plan, especially if you have automated your backup times. Make sure that everything backs up the way that you would like it too. Do regular “data recovery fire drills”. No matter how trustworthy your online backup software is proclaimed to be, it is imperative to regularly test the data recovery capabilities to ensure you realise a problem before it is too late.
  3. Organise your data at the source before scheduling it for an online backup. Organised data will be very helpful when restoring it from an online backup service provider because the important files can be separated from the less critical ones. Thereby focussing and streamlining your recovery effort.


Sources consulted




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