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Five things about data recovery every IT manager should know

Thu, 03/17/2016 - 09:00
Data Backup

Nobody likes to talk about data recovery because it means we have to face the fact that some very important data might get lost.  Add to that the cost of implementing a fail-over environment only to have it run on standby for who knows how long – and all of this for “just in case”.  This is further evidenced by a PwC survey showing that globally, only 21% of companies regard a reduction in security risks as a major factor for their IT spending.
 

1.   Hard drives can fail

 

Hard drives are often taken for granted because they run silently and usually without fault.  Unfortunately, these devices function with very delicate technology and due to being mechanical, are prone to wear and tear.  

According to the guys at Bytefixx, it leaves them vulnerable to any of the following:

  • Mechanical failure, due to: head crash, severe physical shock, bearing/motor failure
  • Electrical failure
  • Exposure to strong magnetic fields
  • Gradual decay that cause bad sectors on the disk

 
Should any of these occur, they could leave a disk inoperable resulting in data being lost forever or at the very least corrupted. This type of data recovery could cost millions when trying to recover data from the physical disks.
 

2.   Be prepared for natural disasters

 
Becoming aware of the risks is the first step. Then being proactive about a natural disaster will prove more cost-effectivethan trying to recover from one. A disaster recovery plan is, however, still essential should your business have a chance of survival and as such require the necessary data recovery measures. Here, some form of redundancy such as RAID or data backup is usually the first port of call.

 

3.   Cloud backups are useful

 
Having your data protected off-site is very handy when one of your servers in the server room decides to give up the ghost. It provides two major benefits: the data is available on demand; and it is safely kept out of harm’s way.
 

4.   Tape backups aren’t the best (anymore)

 
Speaking of mechanical failure, tape drives are especially vulnerable. Traditionally considered the most cost-effective backup storage option, getting your data recovery from tape backups can be a challenge:

  • Tape drives are somewhat exposed resulting in foreign particles entering the mechanism.
  • Being more mechanical than disk drives overall, succumb to wear and tear sooner.
  • Retrieving appropriate tapes is usually a manual and slow process - not ideal in a disaster recovery scenario when time is money.

 

 5.   Remember RPO and RTO

 
Keep your eye on the following objectives:

  • Recovery Point Objective. Decide how often you take backups of your data – a shorter RPO is better in that it ensures you have the most recent data available during data recovery.
  • Recovery Time Objective. Being able to recover quickly is obviously better. But before jumping in, decide what the acceptable thresholds are. Some businesses have no leeway and need to recover instantly i.e. the RTO should therefore be zero. 

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