5 Simple Ways to Avoid 'Data Disasters'

July 9, 2010

By Michele Pepe-Warren


Let's face it: A company's most important asset is its data. Protecting that data and making it accessible to the right people at the right time can mean the difference between success and failure.


Staples Network Services, a division of Staples that provides outsourced IT services to SMBs, is offering a handful of tips for preventing "data disasters."


Believe it or not, many organizations are still losing data because of what Jim Lippie, vice president of Staples Network Services, calls "backup ignorance." Simply put, they don't have a sound backup solution in place. Another big issue is laptop theft. Thousands of laptops are stolen every year, but many road warriors are still saving files only to their hard drives. Then there's business continuity and disaster recovery. What will your business do if there's a blackout, with no access to data for 24 to 48 hours? What about a flood that temporarily takes out the server room? Having a failover system intact is key.


Here's what Lippie suggests:


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1. Develop and deploy a strong backup solution. To do this, you first have to take an accurate inventory of just how much data you're dealing with, Lippie says. And we're talking about "true," or critical, data, not employees' MP3s. From there, come up with a plan that ensures every piece of information your company needs to run its business is stored both locally and offsite.


2. Back up all data to a central server. There needs to be a main repository for all of a company's critical information.


3. Purchase an online backup tool for your employees. One reason road warriors sometimes save locally and nowhere else is that it's just plain convenient to do it that way. Installing a tool on laptops that automatically backs up data to a server on a fixed schedule frees users to concentrate on their work and not have to stop what they're doing to perform backups.


4. Make sure that BlackBerrys, iPhones, and all other cell phones and handhelds used by employees are password-protected. It's not just laptops that get stolen.


5. Ask each employee to carry a laminated card with disaster-recovery and contact information they might need in case of an emergency: who to call, how to remotely access IT resources such as e-mail, and whom to call when the primary contact is unavailable. Lippie says it's a good idea to have this info in hard-copy form, just in case.


There. That was easy.