A serious loss of data is the worst time to figure out how it could happen. To protect critical business processes, managers should think about all preventing the disasters that can befall their data. Personal users also should learn a little about how to prevent loss of data to prevent files from being lost.
First of all, the computing environment should be clean, dry, secure, dust-free and arranged in such a way that equipment cannot be jolted or damaged. Larger companies and institutions should have uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) to save data during power outages while smaller organizations can use power surge protectors.
Most businesses keep their backed-up data off premises in a safe location to prevent loss of data, but all too often they ignore the simple step of verifying that the right data is going on to good tapes. It's not enough to see data on the tape - what if it's older data that isn't being overwritten by new information?
Viruses are becoming a more important threat to data and they can arrive from unexpected sources. Any and all data coming into the network must be scanned, and the system should be scanned regularly. The scanning software itself should be updated at least four times a year.
Any storage device that has been visibly damaged or exposed to heat, moisture or soot should not be used. Drives that sound "funny" should be shut down immediately to prevent complete destruction of data.
Nobody likes to hear the words, I told you so, especially when they are busy trying to recover from a serious data loss. Here are some tips to help you avoid hearing them.
Computers should be located in safe, dry and dust-free areas. Low-traffic locations are best, to prevent physical damage to the computers.Data must be backed up regularly, and the backups verified by actually getting the data off the tape and back into the computers.Large power surges can destroy computer equipment but even relatively low-level bursts of energy can erase the data on hard drives. Uninterrupted power supplies give protection during lightning and electrical storms, so data can be saved or backed up during an outage.
Protect equipment from static electricity that can erase data or damage components. Today's storage media is becoming more vulnerable to Extraneous Static Discharge (ESD). Viruses may not be as common as the news media makes them seem, but they do exist and they can be deadly to data. Use virus detection protection programs and keep them updated. Many installation and diagnostic programs offer 'undo' disks that can restore systems to their original configuration if things go wrong. It's good practice to take advantage of this feature.
There are also software programs that can detect impending problems within hard drives. Using them regularly can head off problems. The people who operate computer systems are only human. Physical components can wear out and break down. Good backups are good business. The checklist gets longer but the message is short: if you cannot verify your data is safe today, it may not be around tomorrow.
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