When we use technology solutions, we rarely stop for a moment to think what would happen in a problem situation. Broken hard drives, virus infections or stolen laptops are usually easy to cover in terms of expenses, but lost data can in the worst case bring substantial losses to the organization.

When estimating the costs caused by a certain problem, we should not just consider the direct losses, but also take into account the work-hours needed to get things back to normal. If a client, say, wants minor modification done to a draft send to him, but the original documents are missing, the work is no longer ”minor”.

These kinds of situations are commonplace for individual users and small-scale enterprises whose technology infrastructure has grown together with the company, without detailed planning. In these situations even important files might be located on various hard drives without any centralised repository.

Network drive is not a perfection solution

Restoring files from a damaged device may be possible, but recovery services are costly and results are not guaranteed. So, what preventive solutions could be utilized?

Network drive connected to a local area network might be an attractive solution which makes centralized file sharing easier to handle. Network drive also provides some degree of security; at least if there are also local copies of the saved files. However, problems arise if local copies do not exist and the network drive breaks or get erased.

Mirroring the hard drive (RAID-1) will only help in case of broken hard drives and will not help to restore deleted files. Therefore, it is useful to schedule the copying of centralized repository to another device, which allows a certain timeframe for noticing the error. Whether several backup copies should be stored in the same location or different places, depends on the situation.

Another way to approach the problem is to create a predetermined file structure on each workstation, that is copied according to a schedule into a server or outsource service. In this case, individual employees do not have to worry about backing-up files, but the system requires that employees follow the company’s policy on file structures.

Who is responsible for backups in the cloud?

With regard to cloud services it is good to take into account the different characteristics of different services. Does the service include data backups or is saving the data the customer’s responsibility? Quite often free services aimed at consumers do not take responsibility for backups or on loosed data caused by user error.

It is also good to think in advance where and how various software licences, passwords and usernames are stored. KeePass and other similar password management program will aid in this, but only if information is kept up-to-date. The same place can be used to store contact details for people who are able to help with different software and services. This will speed up replacing the damaged device or getting a new device in working condition.

After backup processes are implemented, they need to be checked on regular basis. After all the planning and implementation, it would be terrible to notice that backup copies produced by the system cannot be restored. Backup process can also be hindered, for instance, because of a firewall, or files are left uncopied because they are saved outside the defined folder structure.

However, everything depends on the situation and needs of the organization. Is device failure an accepted risk? Are all certain files synchronized to a Dropbox service? Or is it necessary to take daily backups and transfer the files outside the office? The correct solution always requires situation assessment and understanding of the organization needs and objectives.

The writer works as a Customer Service Assistant at Anders Innovations.

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