Backups? We don’t need no stinking backups!

Here are 2 stories ( just in this week ) of tragic data loss or nearly …

My wife’s aunt phoned last night and indicated her daughter’s MacBook had been stolen while at a client. Simple: call the insurance, claim for a new laptop and restore your data. Not so fast. No backups … Considering this is a work machine with all her business-related info on it, it’s a serious loss.

Earlier this week, a client had run of out space on the VMFS of their virtualisation server while taking a snapshot of a VM ( their accounting server ). This caused the VM to refuse to start up again. The first issue here was the amount of free space on the VMFS was quite low ( 8% compared to the 50% recommended by VMWare ). Skimp on disk space and you end up in trouble. The second issue is there were no proper ( VM or client ) backups of the VM – lose the VM? Lose your data! This particular client doesn’t even have a backup solution in place ( despite continued calls to do so ). Luckily the VM was restored but this was a very close call.

I hear about ( and have to deal with ) data loss scenarios all the time and I still wonder sometimes why people wait until a critical point before doing anything about it. Surely prevention is better than cure? This is not even a cost issue as there are many solutions ( especially for non-corporates ) that are free. I use my Linux-based Synbak solution for many clients ( including those with large amounts of users and data ), and it provides a very secure and reliable way of backing up servers and desktops across a whole host of platforms. Depending on your data set size, you can use cheap USB-connected drives as the target, and take them off-site if needs be.

The moral of the story is you can never have enough backups of your data. If you think you are vulnerable, do something about it now before it’s too late. Take responsibility for your data!

Local insurance company loses client data

So it’s not just the Americans who are poor at client data security – the South Africans have got into the act as well. Local insurance firm Zurich SA said it had lost a tape containing client information. Apparently the backup tape was lost during a routing tape transfer to a data storage centre in August ( why are we only hearing about this now? ). KPMG is leading an investigation into the loss and expects to release a report at the end of November.