How to protect from data loss

Data protection usually comes with challenges and it’s not always technology that is the cause. We should ensure that we never run the risk of data loss on our systems. Today, data is considered the most valuable thing we can have so data security should be a really vital thing to consider.

There’s a whole lot of data loss that can happen that is due to user error, due to malicious insiders, due to hackers and due to programmatic errors that can run rogue and delete a whole bunch of data in our environment.

Tips to prevent data loss

Here are some really good tips to prevent data loss. The first thing we should consider is data visibility.  We should have a clear knowledge and understanding of the access settings on our file system and network including users, groups, memberships, folder structure, NTFS permissions, etc.

Secondly, we should have a complete control of the access and rights settings mentioned above. We should be able to define access rules, test them, enforce or revoke them as necessary.

Next consideration is auditing. We should have a record about what happens with our data. For example, we should know which user opened, edited, renamed, or deleted some file. This also applies to directories or any configuration changes which are related to our data.

When we have security and auditing set, next thing to do is implement backup. We should back up our data regularly. How often depends on how much data can we can afford to lose. This can mean once a day or even once an hour. Operating systems like Windows come with backup utility built in. There are also numerous third-party backup programs that can offer more sophisticated options. Whatever solution we use, it’s important to store a copy of our backup offsite so we have a copy in a case of some disaster (like fire, earthquake, etc). Here are some general guidelines for backup in Windows OS.

Another thing to consider are viruses. It’s important that we find a powerful security and antivirus software to prevent malignant viruses getting through.

We should also consider encrypting our data. This can protect sensitive data if it ever gets stolen in any way (for example, laptop theft or similar).

How to get data back

Sometimes, no matter what we do, data loss can still happen. However, we could still get our data back. For example, if we accidentally deleted our data, or disk suffered corruption due to power loss or have physical damage etc. Well, in that case we could try and use data recovery software to get our data back since deleting a file in Windows is only actually marking the data as free space. Data sits on our drive until something overrides it. This means that we should try to restore our data as soon as possible. For example, if you are using Windows OS you can try data recovery software to get your data back.

But what if we can’t even access our drive due to some type of serious corruption with the file system itself. In that case certain utilities can attempt to repair the underlying problem with the drive. If that works
we could attempt a file technique called file carving which is the process of reassembling files from fragments by looking at their headers to try and figure out what kinds of files they were (whether they were mp3s JPEGs or whatever).

When data recovery software doesn’t help

If we have a hard drive with a platter that just won’t spin or maybe bad sectors or a bad PCB or an SSD module that somehow came loose we’ll probably want to send that off to a data recovery specialist as they have the correct hardware to physically examine the disk. It’ll need to go to a clean room since any type of dust or particulate can potentially wreck part of the data on the hard drive or platter beyond recovery. Some drives can be rebuilt with new components while other drives have to be examined by special machines that can read data directly off of platters.

Even with the most advanced recovery methods we usually can’t get all of our stuff back in every case. This can be for reasons ranging from physical damage that’s too extensive, having proprietary storage medium that needs to be reverse engineered, to the target data being overwritten before we can recover it. It’s virtually impossible to recover overwritten data using current methods which is why it’s a great idea to intentionally overwrite our hard drive before we sell our PC.