The various media your data is saved on may be the most important devices in your organization. If a file is accidentally deleted or your server suddenly crashes, lost data can quickly be restored from a tape, CD, DVD or hard drive; these effectively serve as a life preserver for your business. Unfortunately, they’re also extremely fragile: over time, any media deteriorates which also leads to data loss. Putting your media on a shelf or in a box tucked away in the corner of your office won’t protect them for very long—in fact, it exposes them to even more risk. Preserving your digital data requires taking an active role in your company’s backup strategy.
Wait…what happened to my data?
You’ve been there at some point. While cleaning out your office desk, you come across a long-forgotten thumb drive. You feel a combination of curiosity and excitement. You plug it into your computer only to find that it doesn’t work. You remember that at some point and time you had files—if only you could remember which ones—stored on the device, but now they’re gone. Obviously, they weren’t that important (you hope) or you wouldn’t have tossed the drive in your drawer, but the experience serves as a valuable lesson.
Data recovery letdown
The same thing can easily happen to the backup tapes and hard drives that contain your mission-critical business data:
- financial document
- client contracts
- personnel records
- tax files
You might attempt to restore these files only to find out that the data you’re expecting to find has disappeared. Imagine the possible consequences:
- stalled business operations
- delayed customer service
- audit failure
- unfavorable litigation outcomes
Factors that compromise backup media
Here are some factors that could cause your backup media to come up short in the data recovery process:
- improper storage
- improper handling
- natural disaster
Your backup media needs to be on-call and ready to go in a data loss scenario. Unfortunately, improper storage can damage or destroy the readability of your backup media. Maintaining consistent temperature and humidity levels are a must. Temperature should not rise above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity should hover around 40%. Light and dust pollution, as well as magnetic interference, can severely degrade the data stored on your media.
Your office does not offer a strictly monitored and regulated environment for minimizing these factors, and over time, this uncontrolled environment reduces the lifespan of your media. The typical warehouse or self storage facility presents the same issues. Any backup media left on-site at your facility is susceptible to permanent loss from theft and natural disaster. Therefore, immediately after backup, all media should be transferred to a media vault facility.
Since improper handling also damages backup media, all transport and handling should be handled by a screened data protection professional following strict chain of custody procedures. Once stored in a media vault, your backup media is barcoded and tracked within an inventory management database, which allows for swift location and retrieval during a data loss event.