World Backup Day Spotlights Often-Neglected Task

Backup remains a chore that many companies don't do well, leading to data loss.

Marcia Savage

March 28, 2014

3 Min Read
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You probably weren't aware of it, but Monday is World Backup Day. Yes, a day for remembering to back up all that important data, falling on the eve of April Fools' Day.

Created by a college student in 2011, World Backup Day is geared towards consumers ("friends don't let friends go without a backup"). But it seems that businesses also can use a reminder about the importance of backing up critical data. Even if they perform backups, many aren't doing it right.

This week, Kroll OnTrack, a supplier of data recovery products, released the results of a survey of 642 customers who had lost data. Sixty-five percent reported having a backup system in place at the time of the data loss (up from 60% in a similar poll last year), and 55% said they backed up their data on a daily basis. But 65% also reported that their backup product wasn't current or operating at the time of they lost data.

Kroll OnTrack surmised several reasons the backup systems didn't prevent data loss, including failure to leave a computer on during a scheduled backup, the external drive used for backup was connected only intermittently, and the backup ran out of destination space.

Of the 35% who didn't have a backup in place, 49% cited the time to research and administer a backup product as the top barrier that kept them from implementing the technology.

"The problem with backup is there are a small number of companies that have figured out that backup is a process in the realm of data protection and have taken a holistic view of it and manage it well and don't have many problems," Howard Marks, founder and chief scientist at storage consultancy DeepStorage LLC, and a Network Computing contributor, said in an interview.

"Unfortunately, there's a much larger community of companies where the storage group views backup as a necessary evil that's dumped on the most junior guy in the group who mindlessly follows the procedures that have been there since the most junior guy in the group 10 years ago put them together. Therefore, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t," he added.

[Read how the cloud has made backup easier in some ways, but also raises some questions in "Cloud Backup Services: Key Considerations."]

Also, there are small businesses that think RAID means they don't have to make backups anymore, or who rotate between three tapes for backup and discover that an important file was deleted five days ago -- longer than they're retaining data.

Not enough testing of backup processes also leads to trouble, he said. Companies don't find out until something goes wrong that they didn't back up the right data, or that they failed to upgrade the backup system when they upgraded a critical application.

Backups can be a hazardous but thankless job. "No one ever got promoted for doing backups well, but they've gotten fired for doing them badly," Marks said.

Jim O'Reilly, a storage consultant and Network Computing contributor, said in an email, "With backup software and the cloud now so cheap, not having some form of backup is unacceptable in business. The expense of a single data loss will far outweigh the cost of backup, and getting a service after you've lost the data is futile, to say the least."

About the Author(s)

Marcia Savage

Executive Editor, Network Computing

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