7 Human Errors That Cause Data Loss and How to Avoid Them
A recent data loss incident got us thinking about what causes organizations to lose data. It turns out that human error is the cause in 26% of data loss incidents, according to data recovery firm Kroll Ontrack. In virtualized environments, the human error rate rises to an alarming 65%.
The balance of data loss incidents are attributed to problems such as hardware failures. Some data loss incidents may be minor, but any loss of important business data costs the company time, customers, reputation, and revenue.
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Here are some common backup and recovery errors and how to help prevent them:
1. Optimizing Only for Backup, Not Restore
Daily incremental backups are easy. They’re much smaller and faster than a full backup. However, if you’re using tapes it also means that restoring requires loading the last full backup and each of the incremental backups since then.
The danger comes when you need multiple backup sets to perform a full restore – the restore time increases and the number of tapes increases. Of course, the more tapes required the higher the probability that one is missing or corrupt.
The key here is to balance your needs for quick backups with your organization’s recovery time objective.
2. Only Keeping the Current Backup
When data gets corrupted, you need to be able to restore from an earlier version, before the corruption occurred. By keeping the current backup and earlier versions, you can roll back to a clean one. Some compliance requirements may also drive a longer retention history.
3. Not Backing Up the Right Data
Be sure to save all the essential elements of key databases, applications, or services. For example, you may be backing up your documents, but if you don’t also have the ability to restore or reinstall the application that runs them, your recovery won’t be complete.
4. Inadequate Storing and Transporting of Tapes
Unless tapes are sent to a reliable, experienced tape archival vendor, they can wind up getting lost or demagnetized. For example, typical fire safes are designed to prevent the contents from heating past 350 degrees, whereas safes for magnetic media like tapes must hold the temperature under 125 degrees.
5. Not Backing Up the Backup catalog
Make sure you backup up the catalog. If the backup catalog is inadequately protected or not backed up, a restore may require running all the tapes through the system. Or, more commonly, throwing away old backups and starting from scratch since it is impossible to accurately determine the content of the backup tapes.
6. Ignoring Persistent Backup Errors
Backup administrators may not notice that a particular laptop isn’t being backed up during the scheduled backup window, perhaps because it was taken home or not turned on. A comprehensive view of all systems and their backup status is needed so critical data isn’t missed.
7. Not Testing Restores
The biggest backup problem is not testing restores. It isn’t a valid, provable backup, until it’s been restored and verified. This applies whether you are backing up to tape, using a virtual tape library or using a colocation or disaster recovery service. To make sure the data is good before being backed up and to ensure you are backing up all the needed data, you need to test to see that it can be restored to its original condition.
Most of these errors can be eliminated by using a fully automated online data backup and recovery service.