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Data recovery completes disaster recovery.

We all know, computers have taken over the main stage in our digital lifestyles' professional and personal. We use computers for so many tasks' from business to finance to storing family memories' that the amount of data we are storing is growing exponentially. According to research firms IDC and Gartner, this trend will continue to grow since PC shipments are up 13 percent over last year. This is a clear indication that people are using computers to perform more tasks than ever before, creating a greater need to store their increasingly important data.

As a matter of fact, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by storage company Maxtor, nearly one third of computer users admitted their content was 'priceless.' At the same time, nearly half of all adult computer users in the United States are at risk of losing their data because they fail to make backup copies' approximately 46 percent of the respondents to the survey do not back up their data, according to the survey.

As such, with more data being stored, there is an increased likelihood for data loss. Thus, implementing a solid and secure data backup procedure is a necessary part of any disaster recovery plan. Such a plan will better ensure access to data when a disaster strikes and businesses need to be able to recover and press on.

Unfortunately, due to the expense, remote data back-up services or expensive storage solutions is out of reach for many small businesses, leaving them in a difficult position. In a disaster or data loss situation, some companies face the possibility of losing all of their critical data' client contacts, billing accounts, financial spreadsheets, proprietary documents' and a future without the information necessary to keep them operating because they don'[TM]t practice stringent backup methods. A recent Gartner study found that half of all small and midsize businesses that experience a major data failure lasting more than 24 hours will go under. To boot, depending on the scope of disaster, some companies that think they are well protected are not immune to data loss problems. When backups fail, an all too common problem, or natural disasters hit, such as the extreme case of hurricane Katrina, companies can lose their prime systems as well as their back-up facilities.

When situations like this occur, it is important for computer users to remember that deleted or destroyed doesn'[TM]t mean gone and that data recovery companies like Kroll Ontrack, headquartered in Eden Prairie, have many years of experience recovering data from seemingly impossible situations.

First, to clarify' the type of data recovery referenced here should not be confused with how 'data recovery' has often been defined. Many understand data recovery as working with a backup company and restoring data from previously backed up media; however, many companies don'[TM]t have this type of relationship because of the expense. So, in this case, data recovery means working with a professional recovery service that specializes in rescuing the original (and most up-to-date) missing data directly from the damaged drives or media themselves after the damage occurs.

Data recovery often is the missing element of disaster recovery planning and can serve as a 'Hail Mary' attempt when all other options have been exhausted. The following story' granted an extreme case' demonstrates the importance of having a well-rounded disaster recovery plan that includes true data recovery.

Seemann Composites, located in Gulfport, Miss., had a backup plan for their backups. As a custom fabricator of advanced composites and products, Seemann Composites has thousands of files with proprietary information that cannot be recreated. As Katrina approached, Office Manager Jan Niolon suspected their main office on the coast would be in danger, so she took the company'[TM]s backup tapes and stored them in an offsite location three cities away. We do custom work for every job so original files are crucial to our business," said Niolon. Sure enough, Katrina flooded their main production facility with enough water to cover all of their computer equipment and files. Unfortunately, Katrina hit the offsite location as well, flooding the backup tapes in the process.

Rather than panicking, Niolon had an additional procedure to supplement her data back-up plan' data recovery services. "We were in danger of losing several years worth of unique data," said Niolon. 'We needed access to our files since we do a lot of work for the government and are subject to defense contract audits. Utilizing data recovery eased those concerns by retrieving files we thought were unrecoverable and helping us get back to business as usual.' In only a few short days, Niolon had most of the lost data back, which helped Seemann continue with current projects and ensure they were protected for the future.

This example illustrates how important data recovery services can be to businesses in need. In addition to the problems highlighted in this situation from Katrina, it'[TM]s important to note that backups often are susceptible to problems of their own. Reliability is the major issue, as a high percentage of backups fail every year. According to Microsoft, 42 percent of attempted recoveries from tape backups failed in the past year. Strategic Research estimates that as many as 50 percent of remote backups fail. That said, although a robust backup plan definitely is the best way to keep your company protected, establishing a relationship with a data recovery provider is an imperative enhancement to include in any disaster recovery plan.

The various reasons why backups fail are too numerous to mention, but the point is that they do fail, and, on a fairly regular basis. The only real way to combat data backup issues is by spending a significant amount of money in hopes of achieving 'perfect' backups' defined here as backups that are made regularly, tested periodically and stored away from the computers they are protecting. As this is simply unattainable by many, a better plan is to implement a backup system that works on a regular schedule, utilizes some type of remote storage and also incorporates data recovery into the equation in case Murphy'[TM]s Law takes effect.

So whether your business has a high level of preparedness with strict disaster recovery procedures and data backup planning, or a low level without any specific measures established, you should always look at data recovery as an option to help get your business back up and running.

If it does come to the point where a data recovery provider is the best course of action, these tips are useful in helping to choose the best provider:

* Only work with a recovery provider that can tell you exactly what they can recover after an initial evaluation. A company's expertise should be demonstrated immediately, so you can confidently determine the best course of action before making a large financial commitment.

* After the evaluation, verify that there are no undisclosed charges for viewing or accessing that listing of recoverable files. Similarly, make sure that any cleanroom work or additional parts that are necessary during the evaluation process will not incur additional charges.

* Research a provider'[TM]s history to see how long they have been involved with data recovery and determine their level of expertise.

* Determine if they can provide a variety of recovery solutions such as recovery software, in-lab service and remote data recovery, and which service is best for a particular scenario.

* Make sure you are dealing with a responsive and professional staff that provides regular updates and is up-font with all interactions.

* Select a provider that has authorization to work with sensitive and confidential material, including classified government information.

Erick Stevens from Ingersoll Rand' Climate Control Technologies sums data recovery up best, 'in a perfect world users would be more proactive about backing up their data, but real world tells us that this cannot always be the case. Things happen and it is nice to know that there is an option for us to help our users when their hard drive crashes and I cannot recover data using typical means.'

Todd Johnson is vice president of business development and sales operations for Ontrack Data Recovery. www.OntrackDataRecovery.com
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Author:Johnson, Todd
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:1366
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