Why is backing up given short shrift?

Data loss can be one of the quickest ways to bring a business to its knees. So why aren’t more people concerned about keeping their files safe and secure?

Short shrift

And it, as Databarracks discovered, is still given surprisingly short shrift. While many users do diligently back up their files, a surprising number of firms aren't going far enough. The survey revealed, for instance, that of those who don't use encryption, or take data off-site, or replicate it, 74 per cent remain confident that their policies are still up to the job.

And it gets worse. Some 67 per cent discovered Databarracks, of those who are content not to check back up logs, or square off someone's time to test recovery disks, still believe that their data is secure. It's arguably the old idea that if something's never happened to you, it never will. After all, how many anti-virus packages are sold to home users after they experience the effects of malware for the first time?

Perhaps the most sobering statistic of all comes from BackUp Direct, who argue that 99 per cent of businesses don't perform a daily back up. Granted, most of those are very small enterprises, but there are obvious knock-ons throughout the economy, with each instance of data loss unlikely to affect just one organisation.

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The danger though goes further than that. Given that organisations tend to hold data pertaining to the many other firms that they do business with, the Data Protection Act of 1988 comes into play. It states: "You must safeguard your own or anyone else's data, by appropriate precautions against loss, corruption or unauthorized disclosure."

In short, there aren't just business critical issues here, but legal considerations as well.

Why so lax?

So why are people so lax when it comes to implementing a full, rounded back up strategy? As Peter Groucutt of Databarracks remarks: "Businesses and the regulatory environment in which we all exist demand fast and reliable recovery time objectives for IT systems."

But, like many jobs for overstretched IT departments, the back up rarely makes it to the top of the list, and not often enough with the appropriate resource put behind it. Odd, when you factor in news from Symantec that a third of organisations had to deploy their disaster recovery plans in the past twelve months.

Larger organisations tend to be the better prepared, and as a rule of thumb, the bigger the business, the more tuned in it tends to be. The genuine problem seems to lie in the smaller and medium sized enterprises, where IT support is either outsourced in an effort to manage costs, or technical support headcounts tend to be lower. Particularly in the smaller organisations, siphoning off a proportion of already-stretched time to focus on backing up strategies is rarer than it should be, and yet it's, inevitably, these firms that would suffer the most should a major data loss occur.

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Fortunately, a veritable army of back up solutions of increasing sophistication are shouldering more and more work in this area, and given the convenience offered by securing data over a fast Internet connection, there's a degree of automating that can be employed.

Yet that doesn't, ultimately, break the mindset problem that lies at the heart of many IT challenges. Because data loss, as many who have suffered at the hands of data loss can testify, can have a devastating effect on a business, and in some cases deliver a knockout blow. It's very much the problem that's best proactively solved, and that involves proper care and attention before it's too late.

That, however, isn't something that always comfortably tallies with human nature

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