A Guide to Data Loss and How to Protect Your Business

When it comes to calculating the risk of data loss there are two main factors which need to be taken into consideration, the first are the financial penalties that might be imposed by regulators, such as the information commissioner's office, (there have been several examples of fines been issued due to data loss in the media over the last year or two). A regulator might also impose additional data control or technology controls which a business would need to comply to and they'll be audited against those controls over the following years, the cost of re-organizing and re-strategizing a business can be very detrimental. The second factor that should always be taken into consideration is the damage to reputation data loss can cause, trying to rebuild confidence in your business can be very costly and time consuming and sometimes irreversible.

Once you're aware of the risks data loss can cause, you need to look at where your existing data is stored. If your data is located outside the data centre and is remote from the main backup infrastructure, then it's distributed data. If your data is distributed then chances are your servers are in a 'lights out' environment, the risk this can bring is the lack of skilled IT people which may man this environment, assuming it is manned at all. Looking at examples of data loss which have in the media recently, you also have to consider data you may have on external portable devices like lap tops, disks or USB sticks. If you have staff that work from home, or staff who attend meetings you need to ensure any data that is being carried around is safe and secure.

Even if your staff follow every protocol your data may still be at risk, if it's located in a data centre, the data centre itself may also be susceptible to data loss. The physical machine may experience damage or disk failure or they may also be venerable to hacking or viruses. If you have back level software on your operating system it might make the systems more venerable to attack and that's something businesses do need to bear in mind, if you've got a back up infrastructure which is backing up to tape and you're taking those tapes off site, obviously as soon as those tapes leave the secure datacenter environment they are at risk from loss as well.

This may seem a little daunting, but there are lots of choices and flexibility for medium sized businesses with regards to backing up data. Not only can you choose from a tape based infrastructure or a disk based infrastructure, or even a hybrid of the two, but you can also choose between having online or offline backup. For longer term retention requirements, it's often preferable to have off line back up which will be taken off site and brought to the site or to the necessary place, in event of recovery. There's also a lot of differing technology out there, you're able to find duplication technology which allows you to reduce the amount of data you're sending over the network and storing in the back end and there's also increasingly sophisticated encryption technology to ensure you're protecting your data in the most effective way possible. You can choose between scheduled back up (back up to happen once a day or more frequently) or you can choose a continued data protection solution which means that all changes are always being captured throughout the working day. Finally you can choose between having a managed service (choosing a service provider to back up your data for you) or you might just choose to run the service in house like a do it yourself solution, using your own resources and your own IT staff.

For more data loss advice, visit GuruOnline to view hundreds of video interviews on IT advice from some of the industries most prominent names like IBM.

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