How Safe is Your Critical Data?
9 "False Security" Factors That Threaten Your System's Recovery in the Event of Unforeseen Downtime.
Despite remarkable improvement in computer equipment reliability, many IT executive may be unaware how vulnerable their systems are to unplanned downtime and problematic recovery.
In fact, according to Microsoft, 42% of attempted recoveries from tape backups in the past year have failed.
Gartner Group estimates that downtime costs businesses US $108,000 of revenue for every hour that their IT infrastructure is down.
Several factors contribute to this false sense of security:
As you can see, a major culprit in this vulnerability is unmerited reliance on traditional tape for backup.
- Tapes Cartridges with Short Functional Lives.
Many IT people may be unaware of the life expectancy of their backup tapes. Depending on the type of tape media, most tapes have an ideal shelf life of just 3-4 years. However, if under constant use these same tapes may have a working life of only 1-2 years! This means you could be saving critical data to a tape cartridge that can no longer save data.
- Backup Tape Media are Fragile.
Backup tapes are pretty fragile and don't take well to shock or extreme climates. A tape could become unreadable after just a few hours of sitting in the rain or extreme heat and it might be completely useless if it fell out of a truck at 40 mph.
- Tape Drives with Short Functional Lives.
As the price of servers has fallen, so has the cost of the tape drives themselves. It is fair to say that almost all servers today are made so that the tape media is in direct contact with the delicate tape drive read/write head. The backup tape media that rubs across the read/write head is just like sandpaper rubbing against balsa wood - the media will generally wear out the read/write in head in 3-5 years. This can prevent saving critical data to a backup tape whenever the read/write head is not consistently or correctly writing to tape.
- Misplaced or Mislabeled Backup Tapes.
The list of companies reporting lost backup tapes includes blue-chip names like Bank of America, Citibank, Marriott and Time Warner. Incredibly, any career IT person will tell you that companies have been losing tapes for years. Here's another thing about tapes: They are virtually anonymous. Tapes generally have two identifiers on them, a bar code and serial number, neither of which is useful for identification. In other words, tapes don't come with labels on them that say, "Customer credit card numbers from Acme Bank." Even if you knew where they came from, you still would have no idea what data they contained.
- Out-of-Date, Undocumented or Untested Recovery Strategy.
The data on tapes also depends upon backup operations (Warning: what follows is a bit geeky but here goes). Some backups ("full backups") capture all the data in a system, but most backups only capture data that has changed since the last backup ("incremental backups"). Most shops do one full backup per week while protecting daily changes with incremental backups. These backup processes mean you'd be far more likely to find tapes from an "incremental" than from a "full" backup run. Incremental backup tapes would have pieces of data that would be difficult to understand without access to the actual system. Even if you knew how to read this
data, tapes wouldn't contain the "millions of personal records" we read about in the papers. So, if your procedure is out-of-date, undocumented or untested, there is a VERY high likelihood you may not recover from your tape backup - certainly not easily. And if you recover all, the recovery process may take weeks.
- More Data to Manage with Shrinking IT Resources.
The sheer volume of data to be saved has grown enormously since 2000, driven by a combination of email, e-Business, document imaging and the tendency to save every transaction for future analysis. It is commonplace to need to protect 100+ GB, and 2-10 terabytes of backup is becoming more common. Industry studies track growth in data volumes at the rate of 25% per year. More IT executives are challenged to save the growing volume of data within shrinking backup windows. In short, for many, a complete backup cannot be accomplished in 2-3 hours.
- Dispersed Data.
As servers and desktop computers proliferate in the workplace, more critical data is dispersed on various devices, which makes timely saves-and-restores more complex - even with powerful backup software like Veritas or Tivoli.
- Increased Complexity.
The increased number and complexity of applications makes a backup and recovery strategy complicated. More complex recovery strategies require the planning of the proper sequence of backup tapes to restore a system to its original working condition - often due to unplanned downtime to support a user at a remote location. At best, this process may take 28-48 hours (and can cost you upwards of $280,000 to $480,000)
- Need for Faster File Recovery.
Ever lost a file that got mistakeningly erased or corrupted? The increased user and customer dependency on applications, as well as added demands of government agency compliance, adds pressure to recover in a matter of hours if not minutes.
Moral: Failure to plan for unexpected downtime can set you back in more ways than one.
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P.S. When you call I can show you a simple way to determine your data vulnerability and what downtime can cost you.