Minor Oversights Render Data Back Up Useless, Finds New Survey

backupsA new survey from data recovery specialists Kroll Ontrack reveals that the majority of consumers who suffered a data loss had actually taken steps to backup their data, but an array of small oversights made these cautionary actions ineffective.

Improvements in both quality and price of backup technology have led to a rise in the percentage of consumers utilizing backups. However, as data recovery product manager Abhik Mitra says, “What is interesting is that those that spend time, effort and money to implement the solution still experienced data loss, proving that one needs to be extremely diligent to ensure their chosen backup method is successful.”

A whopping 65% of those surveyed had had a backup solution ready when they lost their data, which is up from 60% in 2013. Of these consumers, 55% said that they backed their data up every day. The survey revealed that 59% used external hard drives, 15% used cloud solutions, and 10% had a tape backup system in place.

Yet, oversights rendered the consumers’ diligence and methodology powerless to help them. Files were lost before scheduled backups happened; backup profiles didn’t cover everything that needed to be backed up; backups ran out of space; software failed; computers had been shutdown during the backup’s scheduled time; and backups simply weren’t automated.

“People think that they can just plug in a hard drive and do a backup, or subscribe to some cloud backup service,” explains Chris Traxler, Managing Partner at TSI. “The mistake that people make is that they never go back to physically verify that the backup was a good one. You need to go back to look and make sure that the data is there and that you can actually restore it.”

Such oversights don’t cause minor data losses, either. In January 2013, the Canadian federal government lost 583,000 student loan recipients because a portable hard drive that lacked encryption and password protection was left unsecured for long periods of time. Employees handling the device were also unaware that it contained such sensitive, personal information.

In order to avoid these small mistakes that could have major repercussions, it’s important that companies ensure their backups are running on a schedule, that computers are on during these times, that error indications are being reported, and that backups are being tested regularly to ensure that they’re effective and accurate.

In light of Canada’s big mistake, Interim Commissioner of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada Chantal Bernier says, “Protecting personal information cannot be ensured by having policies on paper. Policies must be put into practice each and every day and monitored regularly.