3 Reasons Proper Data Backup Matters

By Paul Mah | Posted February 21, 2012

We’ve all heard about the dangers of data loss, the importance of data backup and, in particular, ensuring that your key small business data is adequately protected. This is why most small and mid-sized businesses, and even SOHOs these days, make use of NAS appliances with at least RAID 1 configured for data mirroring protection.

While the most critical data is typically adequately protected, associated information such as source code, business documents and yes, even email messages are very often left out of regular backups due to cost considerations. In addition, proper backup procedures mandate that a separate copy of all pertinent data should be made, and preferably stored at a different location -- stringent requirements that may not be adhered to in the first place.

Today, we take a look at three types of problems that can arise in the absence of proper data backups and disaster recovery planning.

Malicious Intent

The disgruntled IT worker is hardly a new phenomenon. Indeed, the past year alone has seen some prominent cases where former employees took it upon themselves to erase entire banks of virtualized servers, or even wipe out all the corporate mailboxes in the company. Clearly, the use of a NAS (or SAN) would have offered no defense against such shenanigans by insiders. Only a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy where everything is backed up on a regular basis may have a chance of returning things to normalcy within an acceptable period of time.

Damage to Storage Medium

Many workers make the erroneous assumption that storing data on a portable hard disk drive (HDD) or USB flash drive constitutes a backup. This is certainly not the case, and such portable devices are in fact more susceptible to being misplaced, stolen, or damaged. In addition, it is important to remember that not all storage devices are designed for longevity in mind, or even for robust data preservation.


Do note that some mediums are particularly prone to damage, such as rewritable optical discs made with inferior dyes. Also, don’t be surprised if that suspiciously cheap USB flash drive you bought at the flea market abruptly stops working after a year or two.

Accidental Deletion

I had an experience with this exact scenario just this weekend. When transferring thousands of email messages between two email servers, I carelessly opted to initiate the transfer moving key folders directly between the two locations. It was a bad decision because not all the data made it to the destination server before Outlook decided to call it quits (by crashing), even though the deletion from the origin took place immediately.

The loss of these emails was distressing because while I don’t make money from writing emails, they play an enormously important role by helping me connect with my editors, PR folks, and various expert sources. Thankfully, some tips from an Exchange expert allowed me to restore the more than 35,000 emails.

So what is my point here? Accidents can happen to anyone, even a seasoned computer user. The only real remedy would be to have separate copies of your data handy when mistakes happen.

Have you ever experienced losing important data? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.

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