November 20, 2019

Put data recovery from damaged media in your backup strategy

No matter how well thought out the backup strategy, data recovery isn’t always as quick and simple as restoring from secondary location. Storage media can fail, and files can be overlooked, so you need a contingency plan to retrieve mission-critical information.

To be clear, the advent of the cloud, high speed networking and affordable hard drives means it’s rare for a backup strategy to fail. However, given the magnitude of data that must be backed up, there’s always a statistical possibility there’s only one copy of a file because it wasn’t backed up and the primary media that stored it failed.

For example, the hard drive of a road warrior’s laptop could crash having not been connected to the corporate network for a few days to automatically replicate to the corporate on-premise storage. Most of the device’s files may be backed up, but what if there was a critical, lengthy RFP trapped on the damaged drive? Similarly, an organization that replicates all data at its primary location but not offsite could suffer fire and flood, thereby damaging all infrastructure. Do they have any hope of getting back the data that’s essential to keep their business running?

The answer is not always, but the good news is that data storage media, whether it’s the spinning disk in a hard drive or flash in a solid-state drive (SSD), can weather a lot of damage from fire, flood and other physical impact.

Your backup strategy should account for damaged storage media

Mechanical hard drives are as old as the computer and flash-based SSDs that have no moving parts have become ubiquitous in tablets, ultra-light laptops and storage arrays.

Reliability of these devices has improved along with the redundancy, but hard drives still crash and SSDs can fail. However, it’s important to remember that data is resilient, and even a drive that looks to far gone can still hold information that can be lifted and replicated. In the case of accidental data deletion, the reality is it’s not necessarily gone—it may be hidden from the business user, but a data recovery specialist can often resurrect it because the data is still there until it’s overwritten by new information.

SSDs, meanwhile, don’t experience crashes like hard drives do, but they can hit predetermined limits when it comes to how often data can be written to the media, although that doesn’t mean you can’t still read the data. They can also be more easily corrupted by power failures that may even entirely shut down the unit. But again, as with hard drives, it’s often possible for a data recovery professional to retrieve some, if not all the data.

Accidental deletion and hardware failure are not only the potential causes of data loss. Physical damage such as fire and flood can make it appear that a drive is a lost cause—that’s why you should always back up to a secondary site. But if a drive which is the sole keeper of critical data is half-melted or soggy, there’s still the possibility that it can be recovered by a data recovery expert.

Have a data recovery expert on call

Ideally, you should always have a second copy of mission critical data that can easily be restored so there’s no disruption your business. However, there’s a slim chance a hard drive or SSD in a workstation or server can get overlooked during the backup process. Have a data recovery element in your backup strategy, whether it’s someone you call directly or access via your cloud backup provider.