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Data Disasters - Fool Me Once (and hopefully never again)

Data Disasters - Fool Me Once (and hopefully never again)
Userlevel 7
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World Backup Day is March 31st

We love using this time to reflect on our habits around data - both personal and professional.

There is a very common belief out there that can be summed up as “My data is safe - I don’t think I need to worry much about backing it up.” This belief is held by the tech-illiterate as well as self-described tech “pros” across the world. And even if they don’t have this belief, per se, there is a trend of people putting data backup at the end of their to-do list. Getting an antivirus solution, a VPN, or shiny new hardware tends to feel more important to most people in regards to their technical “must acquire” list. If there’s one idea I want you to start believing today, it is the following:
 

Incorporating an automated Data Backup plan is one of the most important actions you can take to save yourself time, energy, and frustration.

 

World Backup Day serves as a useful reminder for all of the things that can go wrong with your data:

  • A hard drive can reach the end of it’s lifespan well before the “estimated” date that marketing claims
  • Becoming a victim of a malware/ransomware infection that results in the need to wipe hard drives
  • A dropped laptop can completely ruin a hard drive, especially if its a mechanical drive and not an SSD

I have experienced multiple data disasters in my teens and early 20’s because I gave far too much confidence in the 7200RPM spinning hard drive in my computer. Time and time again, I experienced heartache when I realized that my video projects, pictures, school essays, and updated resumé were lost to malware, a stolen laptop, or the eventuality of a hard drive giving up on life. It wasn’t so much that I misunderstood the importance of having an external hard drive and a backup schedule. For most of my life, I’ve actually owned an external hard drive! My issue was actually remembering to reconnect that hard drive to my PC and run a backup more than once a year (I blame ADHD).  More often than not, my inability to stick to a backup schedule led to the loss of a lot of data that was very emotionally or scholastically important to me.
 

My fellow Community Manager, Tyler Moffitt has some interesting stories to share as well:

Geek Squad Employee Story

I worked at Geek Squad for about 5 years so I’ve had plenty of heartbreak stories when it comes to broken computers and lost data. The most common ones were from young women that had all their wedding pictures lost or older generations who had many grandchildren photos all lost. These are usually conversations with tears and anger, but it’s mostly the confrontation that nothing can be done once the hard drive has died. Very few times do people pay for the exorbitant amount of money that it costs for a deep dive hard drive recovery. Almost all the people have to make do with the loss as well as a very important lesson learned. Usually it was followed by a new computer purchase and then an additional drive for the purpose of backing up data.

The problem was that people assume that these computers are going to work forever, or that there wont be an accident. There is very little one can do to convince someone that they need a redundancy plan and they need to stick to it when they are purchasing a new computer, or everything with their current computer is working well. This used to be having a flash drive or external hard drive that you would regularly backup your stuff to. You could do it manually or have some software do it for you automatically. Things have definitely gotten easier now that we have cloud storage, but that’s only grown in popularity over the past decade.

 

The Good News

Data Backup has gotten so much easier and more streamlined in the past few years. Cloud backup solutions have made the concept of “forgetting to backup” a thing of the past. Using a cloud backup solution also comes with other conveniences such as connecting multiple devices to one cloud account. If you choose to stick with a local backup method, hard drives are cheaper than ever (see below graph) and creating a local backup schedule is very easy on MacOS and Windows.

The reality is that backing up your data is not inherently difficult. Cloud backups and scheduled  local backups are both easy and cheap options for making your files resilient to a data disaster. The hurdle that many of us (including my past self) actually need to overcome is prioritizing the initial setup process of a backup solution. The mistake when I was younger was constantly procrastinating the process of backing up to my external hard drive. That mistake resulted in so many of my files being lost forever. I learned the incredibly humbling lesson of why backups are so vital and I implore you all to not make that same mistake. Taking a couple hours to buy/setup a backup solution is 100% worth the time investment!

 

Tell me your stories

Now I’d love to hear about your journeys with data backup. Have you ever experienced a severe data disaster? What was the catalyst that led to you adopting a backup solution? Do you use cloud or local backups? I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below!


63 replies

Userlevel 3

Years ago seeing a ransomware attack encrypt a direct attached storage device that contained backup data, well that teaches you the value of off-site backup as a minimum. 

Userlevel 7
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I have never personally had a data backup disaster but came reasonably close last Autumn when my SSD started to give up but thankfully I was given enough time to clone it and replace it.

 

My usual routine though is do a weekly back up, this is my personal machine so it is not critical to business but I would hate to lose all the pics of my grandkids.

Userlevel 7
Badge +63

I do weekly full system back ups just in case, never had any issues over the years but you never know!

Userlevel 3
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Thanks to customer and personal experience we prescribe both local and cloud backup. It’s mandatory - the local backup is great for low downtime recovery from system failure, but more often than not it’s that file you were JUST working on that is most critical and that’s where you just have to have that cloud backup.

Userlevel 4
Badge +5

I find that a Google drive subscription is talk for my personal data. I also use an encrypted flag drive for important data. 

Userlevel 7

My Mac makes backups every hour (Time Machine). Once a month I’ll use SuperDuper to backup and clone the Mac. I also backup on a flash drive, plus I have a backup on iCloud.

~ Backup ~ Backup ~ Backup ~ 😀

Userlevel 3
Badge +1

Depending from the size of the organisation we are use to backup all data in the servers and on personal devices (pc laptop workstation) on dedicated NAS storage onsite with a daily backup to put off-site (cloud, raidsnocis, magnetic media, others).

Internally we never experienced a DR event but we had it with one customer in the past 2 year and we have been able to restart the company in a couple of days.

Userlevel 4

I perform a systematic scheduling of my PC and my servers.

I use a system of copies for images scheduled every hour.

Copies made both locally and in the cloud.

Even so, security can never be 100% but we get very close

At home I have lost an amount of photos due to file corruption that went unnotiiced too long.

Professionally I never experienced anything related to backup/restore, also because we have a backup strategy and do regular restore tests.

Userlevel 4

One time we had a customer years ago who always refused to sign up for backup service and was saying he is backing up to external storage which is enough....till his lcomputer HD completely died and not accessible and 2 days later his external storage fell down and was completely damaged....he lost data of many years

Userlevel 4

Disasters in no matter what form it come in is always a WHEN never an IF. Customers do not see the real value in proper data protection, and only realize the true value after the incidents. Hats off to all backup specialists out there that slog away in one of the most ungrateful aspects of the IT Industry. What you do, and why you do it, is absolutely amazing. Keep up the good work. There are way to little thank yous out there for the work that you do and the true value you bring for the customers we look after. 

Userlevel 3

I stopped counting the friends and families that asked me to recover their lost data following their computer dying.

I’ll always tell them to properly back up their important data

Userlevel 4

We use NAS storage and also make backups in the cloud.

Userlevel 1

Datto has got to have one of the best DR system available it got tons of service for Enterprise to SMB solution wouldn't consider using anything else when it come to DR and Backups 

Userlevel 5
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We use a combination of NAS external backup storage, cloud storage, and external drive storage for clients, depending on their size and needs.

Userlevel 4
Badge +1

Many years ago invoked our DR plan due to the office being blown up.. long story. However data backups were good and once we’d recovered the servers and got all the broken glass out of them had the servers up and working in 48 hours. You hope you never need to do that sort of thing and no test prepares your for it . Keeping backups safe and testing is vital.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

I’ve luckily not lost any data or had a backup issue myself, but a client I support did not go with our recommendation of an offsite as well as an onsite backup and got caught out.

During one of the covid lockdowns, they had a flood in their offices which killed their on premise file server and the tape backup. There was no offsite backup of course as they had chosen against one. We had to combine data from multiple end user machines and various backups that we could find and get working to rebuild everything again. Took ages and their offline time proved how important an offsite or at least a secondary backup is.

They have an offsite now and I use this example as a study case to new clients!

Userlevel 3

We use external NAS and cloud storage for our backups using Veeam.

 

 

Userlevel 3

My dad used to keep all his photos on an external USB drive, about 2TB worth. I realised this wasn’t a safe thing to do as it was a single point of failure so encouraged him to get a NAS and perhaps a cloud backup.

Userlevel 1

At home I use OneDrive for all my important data. It is needed to have the peace of mind that this data is safe.

Userlevel 3
Badge +2

Recently had to restore data from an employee that rage quit.  A reminder that not all threats are external.

Userlevel 6
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A previous company that I worked for had a major ransomware event hit multiple customers. We had pushed backup for many years so for most it was a very easy remediation, but for those without the tool it was a big struggle. I personally use a mixture of cloud and local backups. 

Userlevel 5
Badge +5

I once worked at a place with a remote location and their bandwidth didn’t support offsite backups. IT had no budget to improve the situation.  One day, several large external hard drives were dropped off in the department for storing files (mainly PSTs) of exiting employees.

Knowing there was no backup at the remote location, I took 3 for backing up the servers there. One for the next backup, a current backup heading offsite, and a returning backup. This was the best I could come up with for $0. Good thing I did.

A few months later, severe storms hit the area. Power to the remote site went out and when it returned, the SAN storing the VMs didn’t. We had to restore from backup to old hardware to keep the place running. No production or shipments were missed. Without those backups that location would have been down for who knows how long.

I left a short time later and still don’t know if they ever got a more robust backup system.

Userlevel 3

We once had a succesfull backup job everyday.  After need for a restore we seem to miss the new disk that was added later? now we only do complete server backups.

Userlevel 2

Personally my first experience with backups was when I first worked for an MSP. I dealt with Datto, eventually used others such as Veeam etc.

never used a backup solution personally. Until my own computer crashed. Managed to recover most my data but the OS was busted.

years later, got a NAS, and have that taking a backup of my machine OS drive, and upload that to the cloud!

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