The Data Loss Disaster

Published: 14th October 2011
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What are the Facts about Data Loss?

I have been in the data recovery business for many years and have read and heard many "facts" covering the causes, costs and trends of data loss recovery. I have also heard of all the best ways to backup data ensuring total loss of data never happens. Where do these "facts" and best methods actually come from and how accurate are they? Where do they come from? Mainly vendors, be it hardware manufacturers, software authors or offsite backup companies who are trying to sell you their single solution, best ever product. How accurate are the facts? Probably reasonably accurate if you take the context of the fact in isolation, however, in reality when you look at the bigger picture who really knows.
Examples of "facts" easily obtained from the web are as follows: -
93% of companies that lost their data centre for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately."
Of those companies participating in a Cost of Downtime Survey,
46 percent said each hour of downtime would cost their companies up to $50,000,
28 percent said each hour would cost between $51,000 and $250,000,
18 percent said each hour would cost between $251,000 and $1 million, 8 percent said it would cost their companies more than $1 million per hour."
I wish my company was in a position lose a million dollars per hour if I lost my data! If I was I would have retired a long time ago "At what point does loss of data threaten the survival of a business? I don't know, and I feel most business owners would not know either until data loss actually happened, but please bear with me, more "at what point does data loss threaten survival of my business facts" follow: -
40% of companies in the Cost of Downtime Survey said 72 hours,
21% said 48 hours,
15% said 24 hours,
8% said 8 hours,
9% said 4 hours,
3% said 1 hour,
4% said within the hour."
The mentioned "facts" above discuss the consequences of data loss, the following "facts" look at the probable causes of data loss.
Key causes of data loss:
78% Hardware or System Malfunction
11% Human Error
7% Software Corruption or Program Malfunction
2% Computer Viruses
1% Natural Disasters
1% Other
Depending on your location, hardware and software you use, I feel sure some of you will not agree with the above causes.
Let's have a looks at some more "facts" based around user trends: -
Nearly three out of five personal computer users have lost an electronic file they thought they had sufficiently stored.
One in four users frequently back up digital files, even when 85 percent of computer users say they are very concerned about losing important digital data.
82 percent keep a hard copy of important documents they've also saved electronically.
Thirty-seven percent of the survey's respondents admitted to backing up their files less than once per month.
Nine percent admitted they have never backed up their files.
More than 22 percent said backing up information is on their to-do list, but they seldom do it.
Among home computer users who backup information:
68 percent save the things most important to them in multiple places, the hard drive as well as removable media such as floppy disks (79 percent) compact disks (CDs, 58 percent).
30 percent of companies report that they still do not have a disaster recovery program in place and two in three companies feel their data backup and disaster recovery plans have significant vulnerabilities.
Eighty-seven percent of the companies report they have a formal data backup and storage strategy in place and 79 percent of the companies consider tape crucial for their long-term storage and archiving. The survey also found that 85 percent of companies view tape as an essential technology for disaster recovery, and 83 percent cite that tape serves an important role in supporting more robust record retention requirements in today's increased regulatory environment.
The survey finds that for 61 percent of respondents, a well-designed data backup and storage system uses both tape and disk, taking advantage of the benefits of each technology. Moreover, 89 percent view tape as an essential technology for disaster recovery, and 83 percent see tape as important for meeting regulatory requirements for data retention.
Surveys found that 36 percent of IT departments changed their backup and restore procedures and disaster recovery planning efforts post 9/11. The most common changes include: establishing regular testing procedures (56%) and moving data backup offsite (43%).
However, at least 30 percent of companies surveyed still operate without a formal disaster recovery plan.
Fifty-nine percent of companies polled test their data backup and storage systems at least once a quarter. Conducting a regular external audit of backup and restore systems is far from a common practice - only 32 percent report conducting an external audit.
Six percent of all PCs will suffer an episode of data loss in any given year. Given the number of PCs used in US businesses in 1998, that translates to approximately 4.6 million data loss episodes.
30 percent of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year. Seventy percent fail within five years
93% of companies that lost their data centre for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster."
50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.
Companies that aren't able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive.
All the above "facts" are subjective to individual users and companies, therefore we can assume they are all reasonable speculative. Everyone and every organisation will place a different value on their data and, hopefully, most will have a way of backing up and restoring data. These methods will vary based upon two major factors, cost of data protection and availability of resource to undertake the backup.
You may not like, or wish to admit to yourselves the following harsh and mercenary fact: -
You can replace absolutely everything within your company, desks, chairs, software, hardware and buildings. Even people can be replaced, but when your data is lost, it is lost. In short you will have no idea who your customers are, no idea of who you owe money to and who you will need to collect money from. Your company will be in serious if not terminal trouble.
I am sure, if you think about it, you will agree you have just read the only fact which should considered 100% correct.
What is the best way to protect your data ensuring it will always be available for restore? Do you backup to local tape and store in a fire proof safe? Do you backup to a secure offsite data centre at a remote location? Well, if you can afford it, and if you can afford it you will probably have a lot of data (initial cost of 8000 to backup 500GB with ongoing costs of 200 per month thereafter) the best solution is to employ both solutions, tape will guarantee fastest possible restore time and offsite backup to a secure remote location will ensure your data is always secure regardless of disaster.
If cost is a potential drawback then opt for offsite backup, no initial cost with low monthly payments is a sensible option, it might take you a couple of days to get your 500GB of data back, but at least you can do the most important thing, get your back and continue you business without serious financial impact.
For more information of how you can easily store your data securely to remote offsite location, please visit

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