Steps to protect your data...

A common cause of data loss is hard drive failure which at best means considerable downtime, whilst you restore backups or at worst, considerable expense of data recovery. However there are many steps the user can take to protect themselves.

There are a number of precautions the user can take to avoid hard drive failure and extend the life of their hard drives.

Always use a surge protector to protect against power spikes – these are very cheap to purchase from most electrical shops or computer suppliers.

Never keep computers or servers on the floor or underneath desks as the fan will draw in much more debris. All hard drives have a breather hole to equalise pressure and any dust, smoke particles, etc that enter through the breather hole will inevitably cause a head crash.

Consider mirroring your hard drive(s) with RAID-1 to provide tolerance from disk errors, or if you are using RAID-5, consider upgrading to RAID-6 to provide fault tolerance from two drive failures. These precautions will only cost you the price of an addition hard drive.

Hard drives are like cars – they vary hugely in quality, although unlike cars the top quality hard drives do not cost any more. When purchasing a system, take advice on what to buy and what not to buy. At the moment we recommend Hitachi drives which seem to be the most reliable. 

If you are using external enclosures for your hard drives, make sure the enclosure has adequate cooling. Heat is a major enemy of hard drives and the 3.5-inch drives consume more power and generate more heat than laptop drives. The most reliable external drives are 2.5-inch portable drives.

The administrators’ password to your network and/or server is the one password that enables all the others. In many businesses that password is only known to the IT Administrator who may just be an employee. A copy of the administrators’ password should be available to the business owner. If the password holder wants exclusivity over the password a copy of the password should be kept in a sealed envelope or held by a trusted 3rd party so it can be released in the event of death, serious illness, dispute or other unexpected event.

When your IT person, manager or team grant external access rights to staff or other 3rd parties, they can connect to your system covertly and copy data onto their systems. You would not necessarily know this was happening. With this in mind question your IT staff and find out exactly what access rights have been grated to whom and what utilities are in place to monitor access.