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Have you thought about what data files are important for sustaining your business? I would bet that they would include: accounting files; personnel records; inventory records; Customer Relationship Management (CRM) files and customer records; corporate records; business plans; product drawings; human resources files; and, marketing materials to name a few.

Conventional wisdom says that to protect yourself, you should have a good backup plan. I do not disagree with that. However, I believe that plans to minimize the chance for losing data in the first place should stand side-by-side with back up plans

So, how do we lose computer files? A rigorous list would be extremely large, so we will take a look at the most common ways.

Studies have shown that about 75% of data losses are from human error and hardware failure.  Common losses relate to documents being accidentally deleted; files written over accidentally because of bad processes and/or bad training; and, data corruption from software or hardware failure. Good processes which include passwords; controlled file access; restricted access to computers themselves; and similar steps decrease the possibility of accidental data loss.

In Iowa we need to have offsite data storage and/or cloud backup storage. Natural events such as lightening strikes, floods and tornados regularly destroy computer files in this state. Computers don’t do well when blown hundreds of yards, or are at the bottom of a flooded room!

Power failures or dirty electrical power (irregular fluctuations in voltage, surges, etc.) cause real problems. Irregular electrical power can crash hard drives, burn up components, and corrupt files. That is why we always highly recommend the use of uninterruptable power supplies, and in some cases line conditioners.

Other threats to data files are from criminals that take over your computer, damage files, steal your computer(s) and do other such mischief. The use of several types of security software should be used simultaneously.

The total seriousness of data losses is usually not fully appreciated until it happens to you. The facts regarding the impact of data loss on a business serve as a reminder:

  1. A very high percentage of businesses incurring permanent data losses go out business within a very short time.
  2. Lowered morale and the actual loss of employees because of frustration from lost work and helplessness. Then there is also having to deal with angry customers and vendors.
  3. Lost productivity and increased costs because of downtime – bottom line issues.
  4. Lost customers, thus lost future sales and profits.
  5. The cost of recreating or recovering the data.

It’s a fact that all drives WILL fail – it is just a matter of when. To cut down on damage to drives, and thus protect your data, you should consider switching to solid state drives when you order a new drive or laptop. Same goes for new machines. Solid state drives have no moving parts, thus they are less prone to physical damage when moved, dropped, or bumped while they are operating. Good data protection practices with good backup systems will help save money and perhaps your business when disaster strikes.