A Digital Dark Age?


Data Loss, Inc.

Exhibitions of delicate papyrus and early script on animal skins continue to draw huge crowds to museums.

While the aesthetic quality of the artifacts is part of the appeal, their ability open a window to the past through the ‘data’ they contain is their primary attraction.

What will the museum masses of the future make of our digital age? If some commentators are to be believed they may have nothing to view.

The video below is thought provoking. What happens to all of the knowledge stored with data technologies that will become rapidly obsolete?

It is certainly at risk of being lost and once lost is, in many cases, gone forever.

It is also not simply a matter of backing up as the device or system used could fail with data loss crippling an enterprise.

According to Online Storage Reviews, loss statistics for the last year show that nearly 43 percent of people, who use computers, laptops and other systems, had experienced critical data loss due to one reason or other.

Sometimes, it’s virus infections and at other times, it’s a completely human failure to keep a check on critical data

Is the answer in the Cloud? Online storage solutions certainly minimise the risk and companies such as Box have 73% of the Fortune 500 using their services to share, collaborate and manage content. Box’s revenue has tripled since 2009.

Deploying such a back up need not be expensive. Sites such as 4shared.com offer free alternatives which is an option for non sensitive data. Box.net has a free option (which is used on this blog – see below).

Simply backing up your business data on a portable hard drive or laptop is unlikely to be sufficient. Winter cold and freezing temperatures can freeze your data, virtually.

ComputerSight says that feeling uncomfortable out in the cold is not a human prerogative; electronic devices like computers, laptops, notebooks, and external hard disk drives share our predilection for warmer weather. Their way of showing this to you might prove terminal to your data.

Despite the risk of catastrophic data failure one in two small to medium businesses, according to a report by Semantic, have no recovery plan in the event of a network outage, data loss, or other IT disaster.

Information Storage and Management: Storing, Managing, and Protecting Digital Information57% of small businesses (firms with five to ninety nine workers) have no disaster recovery plan and the situation is worse than it was a year previously when 47% had no programme for such an eventuality.

Of the firms without a disaster recovery plan, 41% said it had never occurred to them. 36% said they intend to implement one within the next six months. More than half (52%) said they don’t think computer systems are critical to business – that translates roughly to one in four of all of the businesses polled.”

In an age of ever violent natural disasters (Hurricane Katrina, the Queensland floods, the Christchurch earthquake – to name but three recent examples) companies are derelict in their duties if they do not adopt a rigorous data audit and develop a comprehensive recovery plan.

It is not a question of if data loss will happen, but when it will happen.  The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 43 percent of U.S. companies experiencing disasters never re-open, and 29 percent close within two years.  If your business was to lose all of its files would you survive?

The Cloud also currently offers the best solution available to overcome the bugbear of obsolete technologies and hardware.

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is a retired international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region. http://thedigitalconsultant.blogspot.com
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