Costly Mistakes Expose Corporate Data to Unnecessary Risk

Traditional backup protected information stored on servers in data centers, and it was very manageable. But then the inevitable happened: office employees began saving information to desktops; mobile workers began doing the same with laptops; and backup admins began losing control. Add to that bring your own device (BYOD), and the backup market now has shifted to the other end of the spectrum: an unpredictable, de-centralized environment that needs to protect the data stored on back-up devices – such as desktops and laptops – while supporting an ever increasing variety of platforms and user needs.

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to resist change. So, much to their dismay, many backup admins made futile – and usually costly – attempts to protect sensitive data using inadequate techniques.

Top Classic Unsuccessful Form of Data Protection

Mistake #1: Retrofitting Existing Server Backup: Most of the server backup vendors tried to resell their own solutions. They does not focus on what an organization truly need. Some backup admins still try to make it work, though. And what happens? Users have to manually back up their own data (which most won’t do). And backups miss most-recent changes because backups are performed on a daily or infrequent basis rather than continuously. In a nutshell, admins lose the integrity of the backup system and break their promise to users that they can recover lost data.

“Over ½ of critical corporate data resides on unprotected PC desktops and laptops.” Source: Computer Troubleshooters. 2012

Mistake #2: Restricting/Prohibiting Data Save via backup software: Some organizations take a completely different approach. They do not install any backup software at all, but instead create policies prohibiting or restricting users from saving data to their laptop or desktop. Unfortunately, for this approach to be successful, users have to change the way they work. This rarely happens. Instead, users ignore the policy and save data to their backup device anyway, leaving IT back at square one and potentially exposing the organization to compliance issues and information security risk.

“Only 25% of users frequently back up their files, yet 85% of those same users say they are very concerned about losing important digital data” Source: Computer Troubleshooters. 2012

Mistake #3: Tape-Based Backup: Some companies attempt to back up on tape devices, but this approach has many weaknesses. It exposes data to the same risks encountered by backing up servers to tape. critical business data is stored on a fragile medium subject to damage from heat or light exposure; testing restorability is labor-intensive, so it’s rarely done even though admins know it’s the right thing to do; doing a full restore, or restoring older versions of files, may require multiple tapes – some of which may be outside the tape library or (worse) at off-site storage; a restore could take days simply waiting for the right tapes to arrive; and, in the event of a disaster, tapes may take days or weeks to arrive if roads are closed due to damage.

“1 in 25 notebooks are stolen, broken or destroyed each year.” Source: Computer Troubleshooters. 2012.

Mistake #4: Manual, User-Initiated Backup to External Drives: Surprisingly, many companies still attempt to protect data by asking or requiring users to manually back up data to external drives. This approach can be very costly, especially if the company has thousands of employees purchasing and expensing external drives. And, once the drives are in hand, some users will refuse to do it; others will forget. Additionally, even if backup is completed, external drives are frequently stolen – along with the computers they were supposed to protect – or lost (especially thumb drives).

Mistake #5: Backup at Network location: The network location must be available at the time the backup is scheduled to occur and the user name and password that you provided when you set up your backup must still be valid for the network location. In BYOD policy user may or may not connect to network all the time. Other people who have access to the network location might be able to access entire backup hence security is a top concern. Also, if you create a system image, Windows will only keep the latest version of the system image. So in the case of corrupted backup you will have only latest back-up to work with.

Mistake #6: Gluing Together Different Solutions: The last most common, misguided approach is trying to leverage multiple, existing or disparate technologies to piece together ad-hoc backup. What usually results is an inconsistent, unreliable tool that doesn’t protect everyone or every platform, and is a nightmare for both users and desktop admins alike.

“The cost of the loss of a single laptop – including downtime, support and management time – exceeds $49,000.” Source: ChannelProSMB. 2012.

Important tips

Tip #1: Backed up data needs to be in more than one location: If the backup is in the same building as the servers, and the building burns down, the organization loses everything. Or, if a laptop bag containing both the computer and the external hard drive is stolen, the user loses everything. So a minimum of two copies of data, residing in separate locations, is the best way to ensure good backup.

Tip #2: Backup is not just for failed hardware: Crashed disks may be the most widely cited need for backup, but other mistakes, like accidentally deleting a file or overwriting a file instead of using “Save As,” are actually more common.

Tip #3: Backup should be treated as equally as the original: After a failure, the backup is now the only copy of the data. If an organization only writes backups to tape, for example, and for whatever reason the organization can’t restore from that tape, it’s lost all its data.

Tip #4: Most importantly – at the end of the day, backup is really all about the restore: Backing up data is important, but what users really need to do is quickly, easily retrieve the data whenever and wherever it’s needed. It’s all about the restore.

“30% of companies report they still do not have a disaster recovery program in place; 2 out of 3 feel their data backup and disaster recovery plans have significant vulnerabilities.” Source: Computer Troubleshooters. 2012.

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