An Ode to March 31 and Data Protection


March 31 is a big day, not just because it is National Bunsen Burner Day or even Tater Day although I am sure that those are meaningful holidays…to someone.  No, it is because March 31, is World Backup Day (WBD).  I am obsessed with data protection (and backup) and encourage you to take some time on March 31 to think about how you are protecting your information.

Many people think that data protection is a “company” thing, and while it is true that most (ideally, all) companies have comprehensive protection strategies, users are not immune to data loss.  While you may not have mission critical Oracle Databases or Exchange Email servers in your house, you likely have data that is equally if not more valuable to you.  For example, how important are those pictures and videos of your family and children growing up?  Would you be unhappy if they all of a sudden disappeared?

The unfortunate reality is all of us are at risk of data loss.  As a data consumer, the question you need to ask is not “will I ever experience a data loss event,” but rather, “when a data loss event occurs, how will I respond?”  The simple reality is that everyone will experience an outage sometime during their lifetime.  Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Human error – A file is mistakenly deleted and is not easily recoverable
  2. Hardware error – A hard drive dies and thus all data stored on it becomes instantly inaccessible
  3. Large scale disaster – This scenario is typically associated with a significant data loss event such as a fire, flood, tornado, etc. These situations have much larger ramifications than simple data loss.
  4. Virus – There are many computer viruses in the world and their impact can range from simple computer slowdowns to complete data loss

As you digest these challenges, think about how you (or your business) would recover from one of these four situations.  Do you have the tools in place in place to protect your information through these events?

There a variety of protection technologies that you could use to protect your data including:

  1. Cloud backup – Many businesses and consumers rely on cloud backup solutions to automate data protection. These solutions are typically simple to implement, manage and can be ideal for home or small business use.  Mozy from EMC is a leader in this space.
  2. Disk-based backup – Many individuals and corporations rely on disk technologies to backup their information. They will copy their data to a secondary disk system to protect against failure of the primary one.  Data Domain is a leader in the enterprise space for protection storage and other solutions like Apple’s Time Machine are great options for consumers.
  3. Tape – Tape is a technology that has been around for decades and it provides an extremely low cost per gigabyte but at a trade-off of increased management cost and complexity. While I had a tape drive for personal use about a decade ago, these days, the technology is typically only used by large companies for long term data storage or regulatory purposes.

These technologies are ideal for protecting information from unexpected loss and each delivers different degrees of cost, flexibility and security.  Clearly corporations have different requirements than consumers, but corporate entities also typically have more established policies and procedures.  From a consumer viewpoint, the focus should be on creating a consistent reliable strategy using the technology of choice (typically cloud).

In summary, World Backup Day is anything but a household holiday, but its significance should not be overlooked.  Data is more important than ever both for corporations and individuals, and each entity should have a consistent protection strategy.  Not having data protection is like not having homeowners insurance. You don’t really need insurance until your house burns down and then it is critical.  Similarly many people don’t realize the importance of backup prior to an outage and by then it is too late.  You do have homeowners insurance, don’t you?  What is your backup plan?

About the Author: Jay Livens