Hard drives and data loss are on my mind after a couple of online articles in the last few weeks caught my eye. You don’t read geek news, so you missed these? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. The stories themselves are interesting, but read on for what it means to businesses.
The newest advance in massive storage technology was announced earlier this month, and it uses Helium to enable a breakthrough in packing more spinning platters into the drive. Yes, the same stuff you use to fill party balloons and make your voice squeaky, is now a big part of pushing the boundaries of hard disk drive storage to 6 TB. Six TB on one hard drive! Very cool stuff, and if you want all the details, they’re here: http://allthingsd.com/20131104/western-digital-adds-something-new-to-hard-drives-helium/.
An unrelated article discussed the findings of an online backup company that has been keeping records of how long its hard drives are lasting before failure. The article raises the question of how long your hard drive may last. I’ll shortcut the statistics in the article and give you the quick answer: It will last until about an hour before you need it for an important presentation or client project. Oh, numerically? It appears that around 90% of drives last 3 years, about 78% last 4 years, and the prediction is that 50% will die within 6 years. Your mileage may vary, considerably, but it highlights an important fact: Hard drives are mechanical components, and they WILL wear out. Source: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/170748-how-long-do-hard-drives-actually-live-for
How It Applies to My Business
Taken together, both articles remind us that we are storing more and more “stuff” digitally, and we better have a plan for when the hard drive fails. Not “if” it fails; it will fail, so plan for it.
In our business, two rules of thumb guide our planning: Redundancy and Backups.
Redundancy in the form of RAID configurations (RAID = Redundant Array of Independent Disks) on your server means that any one drive failing won’t bring the server down or cause any loss of data. For all of our managed customers, as soon as a server drive fails, we’re notified of it. We replace the drive, the RAID array rebuilds, and you are once again protected.
RAID is great, but what if multiple hard drives fail, or the server is lost to some other malfunction, or theft, flood, or other calamity? A regular, nightly or even more frequent, backup is key to recovering quickly. A combination of onsite and online (cloud) backups is a good insurance policy, providing fast local recovery from the onsite backup, and the security of remote storage of data in the case of a disaster at your site wiping out both server and backups.
Note that for many businesses, the hard drive on your PC or notebook is considered expendable. When (not if) it dies, it will be swapped out, your programs will be reinstalled, and you’ll be on your way. Any important information better be stored on the server (or cloud storage–something redundant and backed up), not on your local hard drive.
Don’t Forget Your Personal Data
For most of us, life in 2013 involves a lot of personally important information being entrusted to hard drives. And the hard drives will die. Without a backup strategy, that roll of photos from the family vacation, the video of your kids’ recitals, and the family financial records, may all die with it. Ideally, something we don’t have to remember is best. Automated backups take the error-prone, forgetful, human element out of the equation. Backup to an external hard drive is good, so is cloud backup. And just like with business, doing both may be better.
Revisiting the CryptoLocker Virus
Hard drive failure isn’t the only way to lose data. If you missed last month’s article about this virus, you can check it out here. http://www.castema.com/2013/10/cryptolocker-ransomware-is-malware-thats-playing-for-keeps/ It continues to spread, and if you get infected, getting rid of the virus does not bring back your data. It’s gone. Unfortunately, if your backup is on a drive that’s attached to your computer, there’s a good chance the virus may destroy the backup data too. This makes cloud backup an attractive option. It also makes it more important than ever to never, ever open email attachments or click on links if there’s even the slightest question in your mind as to what it is, or if it’s legitimate. Be suspicious of everything in your inbox.
If your business doesn’t have a Managed Backup Strategy today, or if you aren’t sure, or if you’re pretty sure you could and should be doing something better, give us a call. Remember, plan on failure. If you do that, hard drive failure won’t cause business failure, it will just be part of the plan.