Backups vs Disaster Recovery

Backups vs Disaster Recovery – Is Prevention Easier than Cure?

Backups vs Disaster Recovery – Is Prevention Easier than Cure?

“Data centre downtime means an organization can’t serve its customers and it can’t execute transactions, leading, potentially, to thousands of rands of lost revenue. Recent data shows that 76 percent of companies experienced an outage in the last year and only 13 percent of those outages were the result of natural disasters. Most “disasters” are related to human error and minor power outages, and the expectation is that data recovery should be fast without flooding, torrential rain, or other factors to address. However, using a backup solution to meet business continuity needs will not work. Data backup is simply not a comprehensive information and application recovery solution.

Common examples of backup methods include off-site tape and cloud storage. Many companies think these methods will protect them if there’s an outage or a disaster. The unfortunate reality is that while backup is generally inexpensive and convenient, it does not ensure quick recovery when a disaster occurs – it only ensures that the data is stored somewhere and can be accessed – eventually.”

What Is Backup?

To learn backup vs disaster recovery, start with the basics. What is backup? In short, backup is copying your files to another disk. This can be through a tape backup, a secondary computer, or a cloud hosted backup solution.

It is important to have a backup solution in place. Backup protects your data in case of theft (a single laptop to office break-ins), employee accidents (deletion of an important file), or a technical issues (crashed hard drive). With this protection, you can access a copy of your data and restore it easily.

 

What Is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is similar to backup but is used for larger instances. A complete image of your disk drives and servers are mirrored. The image allows you to restore the system quicker than reinstalling an OS and copying files.

Don’t get caught up on the term “disaster” and believe it has to be major incident. A disaster can be your entire network crashes and your employees can no longer work for the day (or longer). With a disaster recovery plan, your employees can continue to work by using the mirrored system. With your employees set, your IT works on fixing the problem with the original network.

 

Backup vs Disaster Recovery: How To Upgrade

While a backup is important, your company should upgrade to a disaster recovery plan to insure full protection. The first step is storing your backups off-site. You can do this through a cloud hosted backup or by storing your secondary copies in another location away from your servers. We recommend using a cloud backup system as it is the most reliable solution and easy to access. It has been reported that 50% of all tape backups fail to restore.

In the case of a disaster time is critical. Therefore, the major advantage of a disaster recovery plan is that it images your disk drives and servers. With a mirror of your system, you are able to recover faster and not wait for data to be copied. Virtual servers with the correct disaster recovery installed can be restored within an hour, if not minutes.

As always, test and check your backup system on a regular basis to insure it is working. Also test if your data can be easily transferred quickly and accurately. Run through test scenarios to ensure everything is working properly. If it is not, then take the time to fix it before a real emergency happens. Now that you have the details of backup vs disaster recovery you can make an informed decision for your company.”

To get in touch with experts who can help prevent – as well as restore in the case of disaster – get in touch with SwitchedOn IT today!

h/t to nskinc.com for this invaluable info!

Cover Image Credit: Server Cloud Canada

disaster recovery plan

Disaster Recovery Plan – Ensuring your Business Bounces Back

Disaster Recovery Plan – Ensuring your Business Bounces Back

Disaster recovery in IT encompasses various types of measures which can be included in a disaster recovery plan (DRP). Disaster recovery planning is a subset of a larger process known as business continuity planning and includes planning for resumption of applications, data, hardware, electronic communications (such as networking) and other IT infrastructure.

How Is Disaster Recovery Performed?

  • An analysis of all potential threats and possible reactions to them

Your DR plan should take into account the complete spectrum of “potential interrupters” to your business, advises Phil Goodwin, research director of data protection, availability and recovery for research firm IDC. (IDC is part of IDG, which publishes CSO.)

  • A business impact analysis (BIA)

To effectively determine DR priorities, put each major information system through a business impact analysis, recommends Mark Testoni, president and CEO, SAP National Security Services, Inc.

  • People

“A common mistake many organizations make in their DR plans is “too much focus on technology and not enough on people and process,” Goodwin says. “IT is an enabler. Never forget you’re not just recovering data and servers.” He recommends thinking about how to build a DR plan in the context of your entire organization. “What behaviors will you need from your user community? What do they need to get up and running again after a disaster?”

Also, identify by name the critical people charged with responding to a crisis, says John Iannarelli, a security consultant and speaker and former member of the FBI Cyber Division. Make sure you have their email, cell and home numbers. Make it clear who will be called in to work during a crisis. Know who you’ll call for help, such as law enforcement, and if possible, establish a relationship with authorities before a disaster strikes. And decide in advance who will speak for your company to the victims, clients and employees in the event of a disaster. “Know what you plan to say, how much you plan to reveal, and how you’ll reassure those who might be nervous of continuing business with your company,” he adds.

  • Updates

Another big mistake organizations make is not updating their disaster recovery plans after changes are made to their internal systems, such as major software updates, notes Mark Jaggers, a Gartner research director focused on IT infrastructure strategies. Your plan isn’t complete unless it takes into account all the technologies, systems and applications currently in use.

  • Priorities

“Identify what’s most important,” recommends Iannarelli. “Not everything in your business is worth saving or needs to be protected. Your proprietary information, of course, is. But any info that is for public release is not as important. Think of it as if your house were on fire. What would you grab as you run out the door?”

  • Regular practice drills

“Just having a DR plan isn’t enough, the plan needs to be regularly tested, and people need to practice procedures, just like a school prepares its students for fire and emergency drills on a regular basis. If not regularly practiced, the plan is ineffective.” 

  • A consideration of DRaaS

The growing practice of moving data operations into the cloud has helped give rise to disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). These on-demand services from providers such as iland and IBM have made DR easier and more economical, which in turn is enabling more organizations to be better prepared for disasters, Goodwin says.

 

Need some assistance in planning and executing disaster recovery for your business? Click here to get in touch with us today!

h/t to csoonline for the great info!

 

 

Data Recovery from Hard Disk vs Cloud Storage

Data Recovery from Hard Disk vs Cloud Storage

Data Recovery from Hard Disk vs Cloud Storage

“The term “storage” is one of the most important factors associated with IT infrastructure setup for a business or individual. With time there has been a shifting trend till this day where we have the choice of choosing from a list of portable storage equipment such as the external hard drive, to a universally accessible cloud storage platform.

Cloud storage has been embraced well, considering the remarkable demand. Despite this fact, many organizations still get caught up in a dilemma of choosing between the storage platforms ie. a physical portable hard drive and a cloud based service.”

Both systems have their own distinct set of advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll be running through now:

Physical Storage vs Cloud Storage

We can likely all agree to the fact that both allow you to store data and make it available whenever required, though some IT experts and managers responsible for data security and risk mitigation do not advise having mission critical data stored over portable storage mediums. It’s the smaller firms that do not have dedicated IT departments would usually go that path until some sort of disaster strikes. The most common reason for choosing an external hard drive to store crucial data is usually the cost associated with it. Because external hard disks are cheaper and easily available, firms tend to be inclined towards this choice. But industry experts consider it as a risky choice for the reason that the disks might fail OR get robbed leaving them with nearly no option to recover the business critical data. It may even give rise to a chain of complications thereafter. Hence they rather rely on a cloud based server solution due to its ability to create multiple instances over the storage cluster.

Backup to Physical Storage Devices

Why do smaller enterprises opt for physical storage devices? Well the reason is pretty straight forward, ‘the cost’ (usually). Firms are able to save on the costs to some extent by choosing an external storage medium such as portable disks to secure copies of their data. Also, easy availability is one of the reasons for it to be so popular.

Benefits of External Hard Drives for Data Storage

  • The Cost Factor

“Hard drives are inexpensive nowadays. Users find good deals over popular sites, especially during festive seasons. Moreover, with the advancing technology, the hardware size of external storage devices is shrinking. So if you ever come across a situation where you need extra space for storage, all you need is procuring a new device and get going. Though a user doesn’t get a choice of scalability but they do have a lot of flexibility with it.”

  • The Processing Power

“With an evolving technology with better advancements being introduced every day, consumers today have USB 3.0 at the disposal. Devices compatible with USB 3.0 technology get to leverage higher transfer speeds reducing the time required to take secure a backup of crucial business data.”

  • Overhead Costs

“Depending on the storage requirements, consumers might have to invest, but it’s a one-time expenditure which is usually considered as an asset. Firms with lower IT budgets usually opt for procurement of hard drives as it’s an investment which is one time. This is quite the opposite if you’ve signed up for storage as service wherein an invoice pops-up every month.”

 

Disadvantages of External Hard Drives for Data Storage

  • The Risk of Theft or Misplacement

“Theft is one of the serious concerns with having your data stored on an external/portable hard-drive. We get to read and hear about news about thefts and robberies of some sort almost daily. Similarly, it’s quite possible that one of your competitors might try to get their hands on to the device that stores your confidential business documents. OR you are probably visiting some store while on your way back to home and you simply misplace the bag which has the storage device.

Since it’s an electronic device, there’s also a chance of its components to fail for any odd reasons. No one can really guarantee the recovery of data in such cases. You might call-in for data recovery experts or ship the device over to a third-party, which again involves the risk to data security.”

  • Security of Devices

“Be it physical or digital, security is one of the most crucial aspects in both storage types. Most users with no technical background wouldn’t usually understand the risks associated with the transfer of files via. an insecure medium. For that reason file/data encryption before transfers is strongly recommended.

We are well aware of the risks associated over the Internet, though scammers and fraudsters usually pose an increased risk during festive seasons, yet one must stay protected otherwise too. For online transfers, use of secure encrypted mediums can be a key to keeping your data safe from thefts.”

  • External hard drives Portability – A Risk in itself

“Unlike the device which is constantly connected to the computing machines, external hard drives are also portable, which means that they can get dropped, knocked, crushed. The connected storage devices, in fact the entire computing machine is cooled by means of fans. Whereas the external hard drive seldom have any temperature control mechanism, except the air ducts.”

  • Storage over a Cloud System

“Cloud is one of the most trending topics in the Industry today, wherein various services have been effectively built around it. Few of the popular services are PaaS, SaaS, DaaS, IaaS etc. We’ve even been using a few services on a day-to-day basis without knowing that it’s based over Cloud infrastructure. Few popular examples would be: Google Mail, Google Drive, Dropbox, iTunes, Google PlayStore etc.”

 

Pros of Using a Cloud based Storage solution

  • Anytime-Anywhere accessibility of data

“Referring to the examples above, with a cloud based solution you needn’t be dependent on a hardware device of any sort. If you wish to access your files, all that you need is an Internet connection, which now-a-days is easily available. The servers have strong encryption and firewalls, so whenever data is transferred to-and-fro, you can be rest assured about its security.”

 

  • Stronger Encryption over Cloud systems

“Most Cloud systems use strong encryption & security technologies across different layers within the system, i.e. Server, Network, Database etc. Plus you have the choice of sharing the essential levels of access by individuals based on their roles and expertise. This isn’t something which you can do over a hard drive, once one has access to it, the data can be accessed with a single click of a button.”

 

  • Ease of Shareability

“With a cloud platform to host your files, it’s easier for you to share it, that too in a secure manner. Plus you can share specific files and folders which are hosted over the storage server while other files and folders can stay hidden from the recipient, which further increases the security of your data.”

  • The Cost Factor associated with Cloud Storage

“Well, this aspect basically relies on the ‘demand and supply’ rule. If the demand is more the supply would be slow initially but eventually that grows too. Once equilibrium is attained, the cost associated with Cloud services reduces too. That’s also because an increasing number of service providers start investing in this model.

Today IT companies and service providers have started offering cloud services on a pay-per-usage basis, so one would only need to pay for something that’s used, unlike the traditional fixed billing cycles where a consumer would have to pay a fixed amount for a usage period irrespective of the usage. Plus, one can also expect other benefits with the service, so in a way consumers get multiple advantages at a mere price.”

Cons of using Cloud as a Storage Platform

  • Speed and Performance over Cloud

“Since the transfer and synchronization is dependent over network speed and connectivity, users may find a difference in speed and performance levels of file transfers. This is an area where improvement can still be expected; rather many companies invest in research and development towards finding ways to make the process faster. Therefore, most companies recommend consumers to upload only the mission critical files over to the cloud. This keeps the file size to the minimum hence improving the transfer time and costs low.”

  • The Cost Factor

“As referred earlier, users get an advantage with using Cloud wherein they are only changed basis of the consumed resources. Eventually with time the data increases too, adding more to the expenditure. Therefore in order to keep the cost under control, one may choose to segregate the data based on its sensitivity and keep only which is utmost essential, while the back dated data can be stored over a local storage.”

  • Cloud Service Provider and Reliability

“Well, let’s get this thing clear, judging the reliability about a service provider involves some amount of research, there’s no shortcut to that. Until you have the required in-house infrastructural setup and the amount to invest in the other essential aspects required for supporting it, you’d need to depend upon a provider that best matches your requirements.”

 

To get in touch with IT professionals at SwitchedOn IT today, click here!

h/t to webhostinguk.com for the information sourced!

 

Cover Image Credit: PC World

Cloud Based Network Protection

Cloud Based Network Protection

Cloud Based Network Protection

“When it comes to protecting your business network, it doesn’t matter what size you are. Big company, small company, start up; hackers will still want your information and they’ll still stealthily poke holes in your network wherever they can.

You need to get security measures in place – and fast.

That’s why “security as a service” companies have become vital for anyone looking to deploy security for everything from documents to your entire business.

Security as a service can be loosely described as a “software as a service” security tool that doesn’t require any on-premise hardware or software distribution. Unlike older security tools, like anti-virus software that needs to be installed on every single computer on your network, it’s almost plug and play — you click a button (and likely put in some credit card information) and suddenly you’ve got major security resources at your fingertips.

These security services aren’t the same as an on-premise firewall that watches the network from a physical appliance attached in your data centre. These products promise to protect you from malware, help you keep track of who signs into your network, monitor all your other cloud applications such as Salesforce and Google Docs, and more.

Small businesses can benefit from this kind of distribution model because it doesn’t require a big IT or security teams to get it up and running. Of course, you’re trusting a lot of your security to another company, but in reality these security-focused third parties have more resources (read: time and money) to focus on security than you do.”

h/t to venturebeat.com for this info!

How does Cloud Based Network Protection Work?

  • Secure the server

With cloud web security; traffic gets to the cloud instead of being routed to the servers directly. The cloud analyses the traffic and only allow the legitimate users to gain access. Any traffic that the cloud does not approve, it blocks it from getting to the server.

 

  • Inspects and filters data

The traditional systems have applications that filter data before it reaches the server. The applications are expensive and hard to maintain. They filter traffic after it reaches its network. Sometimes the machines get overwhelmed and may shut down to block both good and bad traffic, and they may not serve the intended functions.

 

Traffic is redirected to the security cloud first where it gets filtered before reaching the application system.

 

  • Data management and secured encryption

Encryption methods use complex algorithms to conceal and protect data. Cloud based security manages the identity of data and limits access from unrecognized applications that could decipher the encrypted files.

 

  • Compliance

Cloud based security has set compliance rules to be strictly followed to ensure the safety of the data base. They are bound by laws and regulations to maintain high standards of privacy and protection of client’s information.

 

Need some help in securing your network through cloud-based backups? Click here to get in touch with us today!

h/t to jktech.com for this great info!

Data Migration vs Data Integration

Data Migration vs Data Integration: Know The Differences

Data Migration vs Data Integration: Know The Differences

Data migration: The process of transferring data between computer storage types or file formats. It is a key consideration for any system implementation, upgrade, or consolidation.

Data integration: Combining data residing in different sources and providing users with a unified view of them.

To delve a little deeper, Data Integration can be described and explained as a combination of technical and business processes used to combine different data from entirely separate – sources in order to turn it into valuable business insight.

This process essentially aligns, combines and presents each data store to an end-user.

 

Data Migration Explained

“Data Migration is the process of transferring data from one system to another while changing the storage, database or application. In reference to the ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) process, data migration always requires at least Extract and Load steps.

Typically data migration occurs during an upgrade of existing hardware or transfer to a completely new system. Examples include: migration to or from hardware platform; upgrading a database or migrating to new software; or company-mergers when the parallel systems in the two companies need to be merged into one. There are three main options to accomplish data migration:

  • Merge the systems from the two companies into a brand new one
  • Migrate one of the systems to the other one.
  • Leave the systems as they are but create a common view on top of them – a data warehouse.”

h/t to dataintegrationinfo for this info!

Data Integration Explained

“Data integration involves combining data from several disparate sources, which are stored using various technologies and provide a unified view of the data. Data integration becomes increasingly important in cases of merging systems of two companies or consolidating applications within one company to provide a unified view of the company’s data assets. The later initiative is often called a data warehouse.

Probably the most well known implementation of data integration is building an enterprise’s data warehouse. The benefit of a data warehouse enables a business to perform analyses based on the data in the data warehouse. This would not be possible to do on the data available only in the source system. The reason is that the source systems may not contain corresponding data, even though the data are identically named, they may refer to different entities.”

Data Integration Areas

Data integration is a term covering several distinct sub-areas such as:

  • Data warehousing
  • Data migration
  • Enterprise application/information integration
  • Master data management”

h/t to dataintegrationinfo for this info!

 

Need some expert advice on all data related solution? Click here to get in touch with us today!

Cyber Attacks on Businesses

Cyber Attacks on Businesses – What to Know, How to Overcome It

Cyber Attacks on Businesses – What to Know, How to Overcome It

“If recent cyber-attacks have taught us anything, it is that most people are dangerously unprepared for them. Cyber security should be at the forefront of virtually every industry yet it is often treated as an afterthought.

Small businesses are in a particularly disadvantaged position. Even so, many are unaware of the dangers they are already facing. The truth is that an estimated 43 percent of cyber-attacks target small businesses, so there are many lessons to be learnt here.”

h/t to thenextweb.com for this!

 

Cyber Attacks on Businesses

Tips from proband.uk can help us pre-empt, survive and overcome any cyber-attacks!

  • Before the hack

“No one can pinpoint the moment they’re about to be attacked but there are certainly steps a business can take to minimise that possibility. A large chunk of this comes down to user education, and ensuring that the whole company (not just the IT department) understands some of the different types of threats. In doing so, you create a ‘think twice’ culture whereby staff are more sensitive to those red flags when something’s not quite right.

Whale phishing is one example, whereby an attacker will prey on an unsuspecting employee. They will identify a ‘big fish’ within a company (often the financial director or CEO) and impersonate them by sending emails to members of staff requesting a bank transfer or a password. Potential recipients need to be vigilant to notice anything that looks unusual. Is the tone of the email unusually formal for example? Does the font or spacing feel different? If this is the case, they should take a closer look at the email address. It might appear to be the same but on inspection it may have a small letter change or be completely different.

Employee training is not a tick-box exercise, it needs to be carried out on a regular basis so that users are kept up-to-date with new methods of attacks and expected standards.

You also need to make sure you’re covered from a technical perspective. What anti-malware software do you have in place? Do you have the latest patch installed? Is your software up-to-date? You then need to think about where your files, data and software is stored.”

Ransomware for example, will scan your network and go looking for shared files it can encrypt. Which means many vendors have upped their game to develop software that can scan activity on files to detect if they’re being encrypted by a user. Check with your anti-malware vendor to see if this is a feature that you have in place – it may be the difference that stops vital data being held to ransom or not.

  • When a hack takes place

“One of the worst things that can happen to a company is to be caught on the back foot. The best way to mitigate a cyber attack is to have a detailed and well-rehearsed response plan that can immediately kick into action. This playbook should contain several things, including information about who to alert.

Reporting an attack to the authorities is important. If you’ve been a victim of fraud and lost money – either as a consumer or a business – you can report it directly to them.

Another aspect of the breach response should include public reporting. Organisations could have their reputation damaged by failing to disclose a breach when it happens, only for it to become public knowledge later. This could leave customers, suppliers and staff feeling betrayed. This is where having an internal and external comms strategy is crucial.”

  • After an attack – bouncing back

“A cyber-attack is probably the biggest nightmare any IT director can have. If it happens, you need the technical side of the security response team to figure out exactly what let the attackers in.

Was it a misconfigured web server? Unpatched Windows workstations? Overly permissive web proxy settings? Identify the source so you can close the doors to new attacks – otherwise you could find yourself in an endless loop of clean-up and reinfection.

Having carefully extradited the attackers from corporate systems, and surveyed the extent of the damage, organisations must fix as much of that damage as possible. This may involve reinstalling compromised systems from known, good media and potentially restoring data from backup. This remediation process also involves reconfiguring network and server software, and then monitoring its operation for a period to ensure that everything is behaving normally.

To truly close the circle, however, organisations should learn as much as possible from the attack. The results of this post-mortem should be fed back into a company security policy.

Use this intelligence in a business impact assessment, so that senior managers can decide on strategic measures to help prevent further attacks. A risk analysis may show that it’s worth investing in more staff security training, for example, or in a change to management processes.

No one likes facing adversity, but one true test of an IT director’s character lies is how they deal with it. When hackers strike, the truly savvy IT decision maker will have the tools, processes and contacts in place to manage the situation.”

 

Need expert advice on securing your data to prevent disastrous cyber-attacks? Click here to get in touch with us today.

 

Cover Image Credit: Technology 

Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup

Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup – Differences Explained

Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup – Differences Explained

“There is still a lot of confusion in the space about what exactly the “cloud” is – and how different services interact with it. When folks use a syncing and sharing service like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive or any of the others, they often assume those are acting as a cloud backup solution as well. Adding to the confusion, cloud storage services are often the backend for backup and sync services as well as standalone services. To help sort this out, we’ll define some of the terms below as they apply to a traditional computer set-up with a bunch of apps and data.

Cloud Sync (ex. Dropbox, iCloud Drive, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive) – these services sync folders on your computer to folders on other machines or to the cloud – allowing users to work from a folder or directory across devices. Typically these services have tiered pricing, meaning you pay for the amount of data you store with the service. If there is data loss, sometimes these services even have a rollback feature, of course only files that are in the synced folders are available to be recovered.

Cloud Backup (ex. Backblaze Cloud Backup, Mozy, Carbonite) – these services work in the background automatically. The user does not need to take any action like setting up specific folders. Backup services typically back up any new or changed data on your computer to another location. Before the cloud took off, that location was primarily a CD or an external hard drive – but as cloud storage became more readily available it became the most popular storage medium. Typically these services have fixed pricing, and if there is a system crash or data loss, all backed up data is available for restore. In addition, these services have rollback features in case there is data loss / accidental file deletion.

Cloud Storage (ex. Backblaze B2, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure) – these services are where many online backup and syncing and sharing services store data. Cloud storage providers typically serve as the endpoint for data storage. These services typically provide APIs, CLIs, and access points for individuals and developers to tie in their cloud storage offerings directly. These services are priced “per GB” meaning you pay for the amount of storage that you use. Since these services are designed for high-availability and durability, data can live solely on these services – though we still recommend having multiple copies of your data, just in case.”

 

What is The Difference Between Cloud Sync and Backup?

“Users may have a folder on their computer that is designated for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or one of the other syncing/sharing services. Users save or place data into those directories when they want them to appear on other devices. Often these users are using the free-tier of those syncing and sharing services and only have a few GB of data uploaded in them.

Users are paying for extended storage for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc… and use those folders as the “Documents” folder – essentially working out of those directories. Files in that folder are available across devices, however, files outside of that folder (e.g. living on the computer’s desktop or anywhere else) are not synced or stored by the service .

What both examples are missing however is the backup of photos, movies, videos, and the rest of the data on their computer. That’s where cloud backup providers shine, by automatically backing up user data with little or no set-up, and no need for the dragging-and-dropping of files.”

Data Recovery

“The most important feature to think about is how easy it is to get your data back from all of these services. With sync and share services, retrieving a lot of data, especially if you are in a high-data tier, can be cumbersome and take a while. Generally, the sync and share services only allow customers to download files over the Internet. If you are trying to download more than a couple gigabytes of data, the process can take time and can be fraught with errors.

With cloud storage services, you can usually only retrieve data over the Internet as well, and you pay for both the storage and the egress of the data, so retrieving a large amount of data can be both expensive and time consuming.

Cloud backup services will enable you to download files over the internet too and can also suffer from long download times.”

 

Need an IT expert to contact you regarding cloud-based backups? Click here to get in touch today!

 

h/t to backblaze.com for the information sourced!

 

Cover Image credit: Data Deposit Box

data recovery

Data Recovery: How To Safely Backup Data

Data Recovery: How To Safely Backup Data

That heart-wrenching feeling; your heart all but stops, beads of sweat pour down your forehead and you start to wonder when last you did a fully-fledged backup. All your data is gone – photographs, e-mails, documents, music, movies. All of it.

Data loss can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common is a software failure. You’ve accidentally hit “delete” on an important folder and emptied the recycle bin, or perhaps you’ve formatted the wrong drive by mistake.

However, the most common cause of data loss is a fault with the hard drive itself. When the hard disk drive suffers from some form of failure, there is more often than not sweet nothing you can do about it – yourself. You’d need to call in data recovery experts. Here are some tips to try before calling in those experts, though:

h/t to lifehacker.com for the info!

Data Recovery Software

“When dealing with a software-related data loss, the first and most important thing to keep in mind is not to work with the affected hard drive. Your operating system is reading and writing to your drive constantly, whether you’re actively doing something or not. Now that your system is seeing the deleted data as ‘free space’ it will happily overwrite this area—along with your chances of recovery.”

Data Recovery Hardware

“What happens if your drive is not even being detected by your machine? Or your machine can see the drive, but just hangs when you try to access it? What if the drive is completely dead and won’t even spin up? Examining the components of a drive allows us to see which components could be at fault –  and how to detect each:

PCB: This is the well-known green circuit board attached to the bottom of your drive. It houses the main controller (the equivalent of your computer’s CPU) along with many other electronic controllers.

Platters: Your drive contains one or more thin, circular platters. These spin around at anywhere between 5,900rpm to 7,200rpm on consumer drives and are the media that actually store your data.

Head assembly: Data from your drives’ platters is read by means of a series of read and write heads. While in operation, these heads are not actually in contact with the surface of the platters. Typically a drive will have 2 heads per platter, so a large capacity drive with 3 platters will be paired up with 6 heads, one for each side of each platter

Firmware: Your drive runs its own mini operating system in order to deal with all of the data and operations required to access it. Most of this firmware is stored on the platters. A small portion is stored on the PCB, which is required when the drive starts up.

 

How Can I Tell If My Hardware Is Faulty?

  • Your Drive Isn’t Spinning Up At All

This is the one instance where you have a relatively good chance of resurrecting your drive if you’re prepared to put in some time and effort. If the drive does absolutely nothing when you apply power to it (no noises at all), it is 99% a PCB problem.

  • Your Drive Is Spinning Up and Making Clicking Noises

This is a serious failure and indicates a failed head or heads. It could also mean that your drive has suffered from platter damage if a head crash has occurred. Either way, this is a job for the pros.

  • Your Drives Spins Ups and Is Detected by Your Computer, But Hangs When You Try to Access It

This usually means that the magnetic media is degraded. This is a common problem that occurs over time and can be worked around, but only with professional data recovery equipment, more specifically a hard imager.

  • Your Drive Makes a Beeping Sound When You Power it Up

The beeping sounds you are hearing is the motor trying to spin the drive up and failing to do so. This is caused by one of two things, both serious mechanical failures. The drive needs to be opened up in the lab, heads carefully removed and most likely replaced, definitely not a DIY job.

  • Your Drive Sounds Normal but is Not Detected, or is Detected as the Wrong Capacity

This normally indicates a problem with some area of the firmware. Either it’s not being read properly which could actually be head problem, or there is some corruption that needs to be resolved. There is nothing that the end user can do but to send your drive in for professional help.

Credit to lifehacker.com for the information sourced in this article!

 

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Cover Image Credit: TechRadar

data migration

Data Migration Process: What Is Data Migration and How Can It Help My Business?

Data Migration Process: What Is Data Migration and How Can It Help My Business?

“Data migration is the process of transferring data between data storage systems, data formats or computer systems. A data migration project is done for numerous reasons, which include replacing or upgrading servers or storage equipment, moving data to third-party cloud providers, website consolidation, infrastructure maintenance, application or database migration, software upgrades, company mergers or data centre relocation.”

What Types of Data Migration Are There?

  • Storage migration’s process involves moving blocks of storage and files from one storage system to another, whether it is on disk, tape or the cloud.
  • Database migration is done when there is a need to change database vendors, upgrade the database software or move a database to the cloud. Compatibility problems can occur during the migration process, so it is important to test the process first.
  • Application migration can occur when switching to another vendor application or platform. This process has its own inherent layers of complexity because applications interact with other applications, and each one has its own data model. Applications are not designed to be portable.
  • Cloud migration is a major technology trend, as the cloud provides on-demand flexibility. Public cloud providers offer a variety of services for storage, database and application migrations.

How to Safely Migrate Data

  • Understand what data you are migrating, where it lives, what form it’s in and the form it will take at its new destination.
  • Extract, transform and de-duplicate data before moving it.
  • Test and validate the migrated data to ensure it is accurate.
  • Audit and document the entire data migration process.

 

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h/t to searchstorage techtarget for the info!

 

Cover Image Credit: Virtualization Review

Cloud Backup vs Traditional Backup

Cloud Backup vs Traditional Backup: Which Is Safer?

Cloud Backup vs Traditional Backup: Which Is Safer?

Cloud storage backup is a strategy for backing up data that involves removing data offsite to a managed service provider for protection. It can either replace or complement on-premise backups. Many enterprises have stuck by their tried and tested methods of backing up their data (and servers) to an on-site, tangible hard drive. With the threat of cyber-attacks and malware ever present, the need for off-site storage has increased exponentially.

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Based Backup?

You broaden your storage capacity with offsite storage.

Backing up your data to a backup-centre other than your premises eliminates the threat of disasters such as fire and theft impacting the safety of your backed-up data.

  • Increased security

All backups are encrypted before leaving your offices which means that your data stored with is 100% secure – even if stolen.

  • It is a far cheaper solution

Cloud computing allows business to consume more IT while keeping costs down. Business now has a cost-effective reason to implement proper backup – there is no need to spend money on physical backups, only the fee for cloud-based storage (which is usually cheaper, the more data you add).

  • Automated backups ensure nothing is left to chance

By removing the human element from your backups you can rest assured that backups are taken care of 365 days a year.

  • The biggest possible threat is cloud-based malware; while this threat is present everywhere, the added step of encrypting your data will safeguard you from such an event.

What Methods are used in Cloud Backups?

Physical or cloud environment to cloud mirroring

“The cloud is elastic, so you can deploy your disaster recovery plan in a number of ways. You can have two environments: one physical and one cloud. Or, you can have two clouds that are live and replicate between them. Special software replicates between two environments — a source and target. The software ensures the target environment will match the source environment. In this scenario, you achieve high availability, rapid recovery, minimal data loss, and the ability to scale with your needs without all the capital expenditures on hardware and software. You will still have to license the dual environments, as well as the replication software. However, it is a robust option, especially for highly transactional applications.”

 Recovery Cloud

“If you need more than daily backups to ensure business continuity and compliance, Peak 10’s Recovery Cloud is a great option.  Unlike an active/active scenario, use of the Recovery Cloud means you won’t have to pay for licensing of software except in a disaster. Plus, there is no expensive hardware to buy and maintain, downtime is minimal and there is minimal data loss. Your data can be in an on-premise data center, colocated in a Peak 10 data center, or in a Peak 10 cloud environment. With the Recovery Cloud, your data is continuously protected as it changes. This helps ensure a rapid recovery with minimal data loss. Because the Recovery Cloud is a fully managed service, our staff will begin spinning up your virtual machines (VMs) to the cloud within an hour of a disaster declaration and will have you up and running in four hours.

While the Recovery Cloud may be more expensive than just doing a traditional backup, it delivers a recovery solution that protects, recovers, reports and automates your IT disaster recovery plan.”

 

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of On-Site/ Traditional Backup?

Traditional data backup involves creating one (or more) copies of an original file to be accessed and / or used should the original file become lost or corrupted.

Some benefits are the ability to instantly recover data (if the files are accessible form a corrupted hard drive) and being able to manually perform backups. This may not be considered an advantage by many, as the human element sometimes fails us in being “on the ball” in terms of routine backups. The threats of backing up your data the traditional way alone far outweigh the benefits, so we would always suggest the addition of cloud-based backup to ensure you are at no stage compromised in your data recovery efforts.

 

What Methods are used in Traditional Backups?

Daily data backup to tape or disk

“Daily data backups are the mainstay of disaster recovery. It’s a scheduled event that is highly effective in ensuring you have all of your data, and it is relatively inexpensive to do.  However, you will need to consider the potential loss of data between the last backup and the event that forced you to failover. Can you afford to lose that data? Backups can be slow and sometimes difficult to restore, because the restoration environment must exactly match the backed up environment. With this method, you’re managing your own failover/failback. Do you have sufficient IT resources to rebuild your network, provision hardware, stage the recovery platform, and recover data before downtime affects your business?”

 

Off-site mirrored physical servers

“Another option is the use of mirrored servers. This method is great in terms of recovery time, because there’s no restoration required. Mirroring is done in real time so transactions on system A are immediately sent to system B. There is very little difference between production and your mirrored environment. In fact, administrators generally get to do everything twice: purchase, patch, upgrade, and perform other system maintenance procedures that can require extensive tracking and change management. The downside of a mirrored server strategy is the cost, which can be formidable (2x – 5x the cost of the production systems). Purchasing and maintaining identical equipment, substantial connectivity between systems, space and cooling for all the hardware, advanced mirroring software and specialized technical staff are prohibitively expensive for many companies. If you are contemplating expansion of your business, this may prove burdensome to scale.”

 

h/t to peak10.com for info!

 

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Cover Image Credit: Cloud Source