Modern computer users are well aware that, in order to prevent data loss, they must regularly back up their most important files, ideally in multiple physical locations, with perhaps an additional layer of backup at a Cloud based storage provider. However, while many businesses and individual computer users take the necessary precautions to back up their data, a much smaller number of people actually take the time to check the quality of their backups. And certainly, these days most backups are fine and dandy, unlike the old tape drives of the 1990s, which could be as bad as “50/50” that your backup would be usable. Still, when you have a hard drive crash that causes a data loss event, a backup file check can be critical if you want to avoid calling on data recovery services.

Hard Drive Recovery Group does receive quite a few backup failure data recovery requests per year, but the good news is that backup software has improved markedly, and the total numbers tend to lessen with each passing year. However, some of our customers have put in place stringent backup procedures as well as expensive redundant backup systems, only to lose their data because they did not have a system in place for checking their second and third copies of their most important files. Some may use RAID servers for backup, only to discover that the array is poorly configured, and their data is not safe. It’s really a Murphy’s Law of Data Loss, sadly.

Backups – Not Invincible, Or Close To Perfect

Unfortunately, data corruption, unintentional file edits, and other events are all key causes of logical data loss. The loss of data may not be noticed at first if you do not manually monitor the edits of every important file on your computer or storage device. So, when you attempt to restore from a backup, it is possible that you will not be able to locate an adequate copy of the data that you are looking for.

Automatic backup programs or systems may result in insufficient or even absolutely unusable backup copies of your data if they are used incorrectly or improperly. You may be unable to access your files due to file corruption or other errors, which may result in the loss of your most important files.

Business data can also be lost accidentally, even when backup procedures are followed to a strict degree. Every system administrator who has worked with end users knows that unfortunately, the weak link in any chain of accountability is of course the user. Employees of a company have the ability to uninstall critical backup software or take actions that prevent the software from functioning properly, regardless of whether they have administrator privileges or not. This is a source of frustration for IT departments and has the potential to be disastrous for companies that have haphazard policies for when data is lost.

Backups – Check Them Again And Again

Of course, there is a simple way to avoid loss of data because of a faulty backup in the first place. By periodically loading up your backups and checking your files, you can ensure that in the event of an emergency, you will be able to put together an effective response plan. Inspect your most important files to ensure that they can be opened and that your backups are up to date before proceeding. You can also check file sizes or use utilities to verify your backups, but our experience has shown that personal backups are never completely secure unless you take the time to manually check a few files and folders after they have been created.

Companies – This Goes Double For You!

Many businesses conduct backup failure tests, in which system administrators must completely recreate a specific system from backups, in order to reduce their annual data recovery expenditures. It’s a move, for sure, and one that is not favored by many managements because this is a time consuming process. But it pays dividends in data loss situations.

Meanwhile, the use of archival backup systems, which are used to keep daily or weekly database backups, email archives, and other important systems, are also common among large, enterprise-level businesses. Using these archival systems, businesses can significantly reduce disaster recovery costs while also creating system-wide restore points, which is critical if system administrators do not notice data loss right away. However, these backups must also be tested on a regular basis.

While this may appear to be a significant investment of time and funds, American businesses lose billions of dollars in data every year, and performing an occasional system reliability test can help companies avoid these significant costs in the future.

Backups of your home computer, your work computer, and any other storage systems that you use to store important data should be tested on a regular basis. It is important to regularly check your backups and to make multiple copies of critical files and folders in order to avoid the high costs and uncertainty associated with data loss.