Data Recovery Tips for Businesses
By Matt Brennan
Data is central to most business operations in the 21st century. With that in mind, every business should have a basic understanding on the importance of in-house data recovery, should something go wrong with the information they depend upon. There are often simple, practical steps that can be taken to safeguard data, or recover it in the event it is lost or damaged.
Data and business operations are becoming more intertwined than ever. Data represents a significant investment for your business, so learning how to safeguard it is important. To understand why businesses should pay close attention to safeguarding their data and data recovery, first we have to take a look at the importance of data in running 21st-century businesses.
Data is at the Core of Every Business Decision Made
Analyzing the right numbers, facts, and trends will lead to better decision-making for your company. When you can properly collect and analyze this information it can lead to stronger brand positioning.
Without data, businesses are guessing on key decisions that will impact the future of their business. Let’s look at a few of the scenarios where collecting and analyzing the right data might help.
- The recruitment and hiring of key personnel.
- The discovery of high-impact market segments, and isolation of the audience most likely to purchase.
- The establishment of proper manufacturing, warehouse, or supply-chain operations for a more efficient system.
- The creation of an efficient sales process, in an effort to close more leads.
If you were to approach any of the above scenarios without analyzing the appropriate data, you’d essentially be guessing as to the proper course of action. The desired outcome becomes far less likely without a historical understanding of the process at hand.
Businesses benefit from collecting and analyzing the right data. When you can eliminate the noise and analyze the appropriate figures to make decisions that will drive your future, data becomes one of your business’s most valuable currencies available.
The problem becomes that we live in an age where Murphy’s Law still applies to much of the technology that we use (Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong). We also live in a time when our data is under increasing levels of threats and scrutiny.
When we lose access to our data it can disrupt the entire flow of our business. Much of the information that is collected is necessary for the day-to-day operation of our business. It can hamper profitability. It can even impact our ability to keep the doors open.
There are important steps that companies can take to safeguard data. Sometimes it’s necessary to call in data recovery specialists. Sometimes businesses can handle the safeguarding and data recovery processes on their own.
Safeguarding Against Data Loss
There’s no getting around it – data loss can be emotional for a business, especially when it’s highly critical to your operations, or if it’s sensitive data that customers have trusted you with. You’ve built your company around this information, so if it disappears, panic is a perfectly natural response. But it’s not always a helpful one. There are steps you can take to help prevent data loss in the first place. This is an important place to begin.
Consider the impact that data loss could have on your business. How long could your business withstand inaccessible data? Your goal should be to reduce this downtime and have your business up and running as quickly as possible.
Create a Data Loss Plan – If your company lost critical operational data, what would you do? The best time to consider this question is when you’re not facing the natural pressure that accompanies this problem. You can create a contingency plan ahead of time with step-by-step procedures for such an event.
There are free software programs for data recovery that you can download onto your computer before you need them. These programs have limited capabilities in comparison to a data recovery company, but it would offer an added level of reassurance. They may be enough to recover a single file, or a small amount of data. You may also want to consult with colleagues who have faced data loss issues in the past and find out what they have done to work themselves out of such situations.
There are additional questions that your organization can evaluate during the planning process:
- How critical is the data you use?
- How easily would you be able to recover a missing or damaged file?
- What kind of impact would downtime, damaged hardware, or a server or network failure have on your business?
- What other types of situations might impact your access to necessary data?
It’s critical to plan for any unexpected scenarios before you find your business impacted by them.
Create Flash Drive or External Hard Drive Backups – When key operational data exists in multiple locations, it is safer. It takes commitment to the habit of backing up your data on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but you’ll rest much easier knowing it’s there.
If something were to ever go wrong with your computer, knowing that the data exists in multiple locations can prevent the initial onset of panic. It can make all the difference in being able to continue with your day-to-day operations.
This step is the business executive’s version of living out the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. All it takes is locating your external device and being ready to reload that data once your computer issue is resolved.
Cloud Storage – This is an easy way to store files in a location that won’t be impacted by things like hackers, corrupted hard drives, broken devices, or other types of malfunctioning hardware. There is a reason that so many computer and smart phone companies are providing their own version of cloud storage.
Cloud storage has sparked questions about the security of information being stored there, but most platforms use some form of encryption, or a complex algorithm used to encode and protect your data. This makes it less likely that your information can be compromised in any way. It also requires you to create a user name and password to access data, which creates another level of added security.
When your local data is compromised, cloud storage can help you quickly regain access to useful information used to run your business.
Consider Other Locations – If you’ve accessed a particular file from another location, or sent it as an email attachment recently, you may be able to recover a recent version of it. Make sure that you consider all the other places a particular file has lived before you take extreme steps for recovery.
For instance, Gmail has a particularly powerful search feature, and the attachments now show up without clicking on the individual message. If it’s a single file, or a small amount of information that you are hunting down, this can be particularly helpful.
More Data Recovery Tips and Strategies
Data loss can happen, no matter how prepared you are. When you lose data that is crucial to your company, the instinct is to panic. The problem is that panic can lead to questionable decisions.
When you discover that you are missing data, it’s important to consider whether you’ve taken any of the steps above to reduce the impact of the loss. If so, you can take the necessary steps to fix the hardware problem and redownload the data in question. You can consult your plan if you have one and take the necessary steps toward recovery. If you haven’t taken any of the above steps, you can still recover data, but there will be some additional steps involved.
Check the Recycle Bin – This is a basic reminder that when you accidently delete a file, it may still be recoverable in either the Windows or Mac recycling bin. If this is all that happened, you can simply open the recycling bin, locate the file, and drag it back to the desktop or the previous storage folder.
You’ll still want to act fast when you discover a file is missing, and never use the recycling bin for intentional storage, because it has a file capacity limit. Once it hits that limit, older files will be deleted, making recovery much more complicated.
The shift + delete command in Windows bypasses the recycling bin, making these files inaccessible. If this is how a necessary file has been deleted, you may need to download a third-party data recovery tool, or contact a data recovery company. The same is true of files immediately deleted off USB flash drives or SD cards, where there is no recycle bin available.
Act Fast – The faster you discover missing or deleted data, the better your chances are at recovery. If you save another file to the disk, including any data recovery software, there is a chance you may rewrite the very files you are trying to recover.
Your computer’s operating system is reading and writing to your drive on a regular basis, whether you are actively using the computer or not. Your computer may see deleted data as space that can be overwritten to make room for new, additional data. This can obviously make recovery more complicated.
The best thing you can do is to shut down the drive when you realize data is missing. You can clone the drive and attempt recovery from the clone. This way any potential damage from the recovery process would have a minimal impact on your hardware. You could then scan the clone with a few available data recovery programs.
Data Recovery Tools and Software – Most files are recoverable when you know where and how to look. As long as they weren’t shredded or deleted with a secure data deletion tool, there are options available for data recovery. Even files that have been emptied from the recycling bin can often be tracked down and recovered. Unless the file has been written over with entirely new data, the majority of the file remains.
Lost data can often be recovered with free data recovery tools, but it’s typically a cumbersome and detailed process. While the software can be effective, there are inherent risks if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
There are no shortage of free or paid software options for running a data recovery search on a Mac or PC computer. Some simple online research can help you determine which software options may be right for your business or your specific situation.
Professional Data Recovery – Data loss can have a devastating impact on a business. Many businesses close as a result. A quick and speedy recovery is necessary to keep your operations alive.
A professional data recovery company has likely seen a case similar to yours. They often employ a team of IT professionals, engineers, and other data specialists who can find innovative ways to gain access to lost information. In many cases they may discover new ways to recover data previously thought inaccessible.
Between cybersecurity threats and damaged or malfunctioning hardware, your data is always at risk. It’s best not to wait until you are in the midst of a crisis to determine how you will handle your organization’s data recovery process. Instead, you can create a plan and be prepared.
It’s always good to back up your files to remain prepared, should your business experience data loss. It’s also important to understand that backups don’t prevent data loss from occurring in the first place. External hard drives, flash drives, or SD cards can all be lost or damaged themselves.
Make sure you understand how long your business could last if your most crucial data was inaccessible. From there, you can plan the necessary steps and precautions to minimize this downtime and regain access to crucial data.
Just remember that data truly is the backbone of your business. It’s what your business lives and dies on. Professional data recovery specialists provide the most reliable option for businesses looking for a quick rebound. They often have the most innovate solutions for recovery and can provide the best results.