Disaster Recovery And How To Avoid It - InformationWeek
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Jake Widman
Jake Widman

Disaster Recovery And How To Avoid It

Data recovery services make a good living getting data off apparently useless hard disks, CDs, and tape. It's good to know the service is available -- but it's even better never to need it.

Data recovery services make a good living getting data off apparently useless hard disks, CDs, and tape. It's good to know the service is available -- but it's even better never to need it.According to Dyan Parker, chief performance officer at WeRecoverData.com, there are lots of ways a business can ruin its storage media. She's been asked to recover information from a phone that's been left in the glove compartment all day, from CDs a company stored improperly (vertically rather than flat), and from a laptop someone dropped in a lake.

And, she says her company can handle the job. They have their own R&D lab and proprietary utilities for data recovery. When the utilities don't work, they send the storage medium to the R&D lab to see if they can reverse-engineer the device. WeRecoverData sees the disks that other data recovery companies have given up on, she says, and boasts that "if we can't recover your data, nobody can."

But that kind of expertise doesn't come cheap. The company will provide a report at no charge on what needs to be done, but actually doing it is a different matter. Before the diagnosis, their standard quote is $400 to $2,400 for a single drive. But for business servers, RAID systems, and other higher-capacity or more complex storage devices, she says, "you can just start adding zeroes after those figures."

So how can you avoid having your business become one of Ms. Parker's customers? We asked, and her top pieces of advice are:

1. If you get the feeling there's something wrong with your storage device, shut it off immediately and take it to an expert to have examined. If you try to keep using it, you could end up overwriting the data and making it harder or impossible to recover.

2. Pay attention to dialog boxes and read them carefully. Don't simply say "yes" because you're in a hurry -- it might be asking if you really want to reformat your drive.

3. Remember that it's a mechanical device (at least until all storage is solid state) and relies on the operation of physical objects. Treat it with care.

4. Instruct your employees in proper handling of the equipment. It's human nature for people not to treat a work machine the same way they would if they'd bought it themselves.

5. Back up your backup systems. And this doesn't mean just have a second backup device -- assign someone to make sure it's getting done. Parker's seen cases where businesses have set up an automatic backup system and trusted it, only to find out later the backups weren't happening as they should.

And, perhaps most obviously: don't drop your computer in the lake.

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