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The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book Mining New Gold - Managing Your Business Data by Penny, Jeffrey and Gillian Garbus which can be purchased here.

How did you store data 10 years ago? Is it comparable with how you store it today? If you’ve upgraded, list the reasons why: Are the new methods more reliable? Are they hardened against Data Loss? More user-friendly? More efficient? Scalable?

If you’re just going with the flow and haven’t really thought about it, do you know how much data loss you can afford? Is it a year’s worth? A month? A week? A day? An hour? How about minutes? Would the nature of your business allow you to lose just a couple of seconds worth of data?

If the answer is an entire year or greater, then stop reading. You have more important things to do than read this blog. If, on the other hand, you don’t know bow much data loss you can afford, then let’s think about a few things.

The Importance of Being Able to Reconstruct Lost Data

If you were to lose your entire database for a full week, would you be able to reconstruct it and get back to business? If so, how fast would you be able to do so? Would the process mean failing to meet sales goals or walking into compliance issues?

As soon as you have to think about whether a data breach would affect your company’s bottom line or whether it would result in legal problems, you have to take time to figure out whether your database protection strategies are effective.

If you haven’t thought of data in relation to your financial well-being don’t feel bad; you are not alone. It’s so easy to become so busy with your business, you don’t stop to think about things that aren’t normally on your radar. But take note: when you know better, you do better, and we’re telling you that database protection should always be a priority.

For example, being unable to successfully recover lost data could result in any or all of the following:

  • Going out of business
  • Losing your licensing
  • Being investigated by regulatory agencies for negligence
  • Lawsuits by disgruntled clients or patients

Data is like gold. It can be traded, it’s the base for the creation of many products, and if you lose it, in a best-case scenario, you lose money. And these costs don’t come only from lost business or having to pay fines and settle with clients. There are plenty of hackers who prey on a business’ desperation to get it back. You don’t need to go far to find evidence: The relatively recent Ransomware and Wannacry attacks proved to be devastating. And don’t go thinking this is something only Fortune 500 companies have to worry about. Small businesses are prime targets for these types of security breaches.

Complying With Government Regulations and Taking Stock of Old Data

To add more items to your To Do list, there are ever-changing government regulations that establish new compliance standards. In one industry we worked for, the government was famous for creating new regulations and backdating them by 18 months.

This is why it’s crucial to review these questions every year. You need to go over them so that you can do an audit about proper compliance with regulations. Doing so also allows you to take stock and index your data. Some companies keep so much stored information, they forget what they have, where it’s stored, and whether it’s still relevant. They continue to pay for storage of old data and purchase additional storage space without doing a long overdue spring cleaning. You can’t assume everything is important. Cleaning out old data could save you money.

Regularly Backing up Your Database

Now that you have a more comprehensive idea of how to manage your data, let’s move on to one of the most crucial aspects of database administration.
Always make sure to back up information. If you are not certain how often to do it, check with regulatory guidelines in your industry or with the Service Level Agreement (SLA) you entered into with clients. In the end, make sure you have them staged so you can get back to a point in time if the backup is corrupted.
Also, keep in mind that one backup is not enough. You need to stage them, get them off-site, preferably out of region, and test them periodically to make sure they are restorable. One of the worst false promises you can make is to believe you are safe because of backups.

Failing to Implement a Proper Recovery Process May End up Costing Thousands of Jobs

A mid-level company believed they had everything in place to ensure data was safe. Then one day the data was corrupted. They had not noticed until the data was unusable, so the corruption had existed for a while.
They believed they were protected because they backed up the database daily. However, the data had been corrupted for such a long time, the backups were corrupted too. They never tested their restore process. Because of this, they had not realized there were steps and procedures that were missing and that their backups were useless. As a result, thousands of jobs were at stake. Would you like that to happen to your company?

Key Takeaways

Can you really afford to lose even a small amount of data? If you lost all transactions from the past 15 minutes, would you be able to recover the data in less than a day? If it was permanently lost, what would that cost in revenue, lawsuits, or fines?

Do a thorough self-analysis to design data protection processes and procedures. Define your needs and discuss with IT staff to ensure you’re all on the same page regarding your data protection and that your strategies fully match your business needs.