Data recovery: Why is it so important?

Green financial data chart rising up trend

Data is one of the most powerful weapons a business has. It provides key insights about employees, customers, products and competitors. It's collected from a whole host of sources and can make or break a firm's success.

But the world of data has also become harder to manage over the last few years and most notably with the introduction of the GDPR in May 2018, where businesses are now required to only collect the necessary information to dictate their business strategy.

A major part of the GDPR is protecting data from hackers and also, recovering that data if a loss occurs. If, by chance, your organisation's data is stolen or falls into the wrong hands, you may have to pay a huge fine and tell the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) as soon as you learn about the loss.

Because data is such a vital asset to the company that it belongs to (and of course the person to whom it relates), it must be viewed as such. Consider that a company's data may have taken years - if not decades - to collect. If that data is lost, that's not just a big fine to deal with, but also a huge part of the company's value too. If you don't already have a data backup and recovery solution, now's the time to start considering the investment.

According to Clutch, 58% of businesses are not prepared for data loss, despite 60% of firms suffering a data breach being forced to close their doors six months after losing the data. The same report revealed 29% of hard drive failures are caused by accident.

As losing data is such a common occurrence, it's vital your business is prepared should you lose that information, and the best way to do that is to implement a data recovery system to get your information back should it be lost or stolen.

What could cause a data loss?

There are three primary causes of data loss:

Firstly, there are the accidental causes, which can be difficult to predict. Environmental disasters, power outages and other IT malfunctions are key contributors to data loss. Hardware outages are actually the leading cause of data loss incidents, as cited by 47% of recent survey respondents.

Employees are also often a cause of data loss. Whether a member of staff accidentally deletes key files or deliberately leaks access to a vital database, the impact on businesses who aren't prepared can be devastating.

The final cause of many data loss incidents is a cyber attack. Whether a computer has fallen victim to malware, a server has been hacked or business details have been exposed, many businesses lose millions of pounds in lost data each year. That's before the cost of fines is added up; British Airways for example is facing a record 183m ICO GDPR fine after hackers compromised the personal data of half a million customers.

Data loss disasters have the potential to create a very damaging set of circumstances for any individual or enterprise.

What is data recovery?

Data recovery is the process of recalling or recovering data from any storage media following data loss. In technical terms, data recovery encompasses a set of methods used to recover lost data or information.

Data recovery processes can be applied to situations including accidental file deletion, incorrect hard drive or server formatting, a faulty re-installation of applications or system booting failures.

The high prevalence of data loss experienced by users of technology suggests it would be wise to consider your data recovery options before trouble begins. If, as the above statistics suggest, a crash is inevitable, plan ahead. Think of data recovery as a protective measure and have a viable plan in place. Even with the best of intentions, many users would admit to an all too casual approach with the backing up of precious data.

Depending on the nature of your situation, there are two main methods of data recovery available to assist with restoration. You can utilise data recovery software or you could employ an expert in data recovery services.

Data recovery services are often consulted when the data recovery software has failed to recover the data, or the data corruption is so complex that a specialised data recovery expert's attention is required.

Resources of time and money will most likely dictate your response to a data loss catastrophe. Although the software option can be a more cost-effective approach in the short term, it might not have the capacity to resolve all of your issues and you may need to consult a professional service in the end anyway.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place should the worst happen can mitigate the impact of data loss, and help your business get back on its feet quicker. This can be as simple as circulating a list of who to contact in the business in the event of an incident, to having actual disaster drills to test your plan.

How to recover data

If you suspect a data loss has occurred, ensure you adhere to your planned recovery strategy. Make a decision about whether to apply specialist software or to consult an expert and if you opt for the first option, make sure you are confident you know what you're doing before further damaging your files.

Recovery software has the capacity to repair data files, databases, storage media and corrupted partitions, hopefully also returning lost data to its rightful place.

There are numerous free data recovery programs that can assist with the recovery of your lost data, but while such programs are can be useful, it's imperative to do your homework. Check the one you opt to use is legitimate and has trustworthy reviews before unleashing it on your lost data.

In some circumstances, lost data cannot be restored by using recovery software alone. Complex data recovery requires expertise and it is best to leave this to the professionals and contact your local data recovery service for advice.

The downside of this approach is, of course, the expense and downtime without your hard drive but if the data is valuable enough, then it may be the only option painful as it is.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.