How to Prepare for a Data Loss Disaster Over the Holidays


It’s December 23rd at 4PM.  You are in the middle of packing up your laptop and leaving early to prepare for the next few days of friends, family, food, and rest.  Just as you reach to turn your office light off, the phone rings.  As you look down at your iPhone, you see that goofy picture of the new VP of Marketing. You answer the phone polietly, “good evening Bob”.  Bob begins to tell you that all of his data is gone and he needs your help to restore it before his meeting on the 26th.  You mute the phone and yell “I hate computers” before unmuting and polietly listening to Bob explain his situation starting from when he woke up that morning.  What a great Christmas this is going to be.

I spent many Christmas seasons stressed over the networks I managed.  I was always afraid of the dredded call right in the middle of my egg nog and gingerbread cookie. 

Data loss is never fun, but for IT profressionals, data loss around Christmas and New Years is the worse.  As an IT Profressional, I want you to enjoy your holiday this year.

Here are my top 5 tasks to complete before December 23rd:

  1. Know where are all of your data is – Half of the problem is not knowing where all of the data is at.  Company secrets hiding in My Document folders, items stored on the FTP server, unlinked documents in Sharepoint etc…  Having an accurate count of each machine on and off the network the first step in preventing disaster when data loss happens.  If you don’t have a utility to do this, you can use ours.
  2. Schedule recurring disk image snapshots of remote machines – With more and more people traveling it is almost impossible to keep everything on the LAN.  Even when there is a computer connected remotely it is many times impossible to grab 100% of the important data over the hotel DSL line.  Because most data loss emergencies occurr due to human error and not hardware failure, it is always a good idea to perform a snapshot backup of your remote laptops locally.  In otherwords, setup a recurring daily image of each laptop with a copy of that snapshot stored the local drive.  This way when that call comes, you can do a restore of a 100MB PowerPoint file in minutes rather than hours due to transfer time.  This also increases the chance that the backup actually ran because the backup location was available during the scheduled job.  
  3. Perform a fire drill – Find a tech-savy user and run them through a test restore.  When doing a fire drill, try and come up with a near “worse case” scenario without it taking an entire day.  Make sure they are off the LAN or WAN, need to restore a large file or folder, and the file(s) were recently updated to see how close you can come to the most recent copy.  If you support multiple operating systems, make sure you test each OS so there are no surprises.  
  4. Prevent failure from happening through security patch and malware updates – The best way ease holiday stress is to make sure all of your systems are up to date.  There is a tremendous amount of crap that is passed around over email during the holiday season, not to mention the added non-business web surfing that takes place.  Insurring that all of your systems are updated, will mitigate risk and decrease the number of issues coming to your help desk after the New Years.
  5. Educate your users on data storage policy and protocol – Every company should have policies in place requiring users to store company documents and data in designated locations for backup and shared access.  Sending out an email reminder with this information may be a good reminder for those “desktop” storage finatics.  This is also good “I told you so” ammunition when your favorite co-worker calls and asks for a restore.  

In the end, the goal is to plan for an enjoyable holiday season with the least amount of stress.  By putting these 5 items in place your Starbucks Venti Pepermint Mocha Twist will taste that much better.

Happy Holidays from Kaseya!

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