On Tuesday March 20th, 2007, the Associated Press reported a computer tech wiped out $38 billion dollars of account data for Alaska's Department of Revenue. The article reported that it would cost about $200,000 to re-key the data from their paper backups in over 300 boxes. This story is not uncommon, and data loss could cost more: it can put you out of business. For most home users, data loss means lousing address books, pictures, memories, resumes, check books, and music. While this probably is not catastrophic, some can never be recreated. For a business though, their data makes them more efficient: pulling something up in the computer and not having to pull a paper file. For some businesses, this data is critical. To determine how critical your data is, go a month without using is: do not open any existing documents, no computerized accounting, don't think about sending an email using your address book, and do not use Outlook in general. When your data is gone, it has gone to digital “La-La Land" to never return.
The Value of Data
When considering the value of your data, we have two routes: data recovery, and data re-creation. Data recovery for a single drive may cost from $750 - $3,500. A stripped RAID array with parity (RAID 3) would cost from $2,250 to $10,500. If data recovery is possibly, it might be worth considering.
The other method to recover data is to re-enter the data. This value could be determined by the amount you would pay staff to enter data. The quicker you need it, the more costly - over-time. Consider a company who louses a year of accounting data. The accounting department consists of 4 fulltime employees making $14 an hour. The cost to recreate this data would be approximately $112,000.
These estimates are for data that can be recovered. Sometimes data recovery is not an option, and the data is lost. Unlike on the TV series CSI and 24, data is not always recoverable. In preparation for this type of disaster, you might consider what data cannot be recreated, or the cost to recreate exceeds your means. Backing up data is not just important, but critical. The cost to recreate the data, the time required recreating data, and the loss to efficiency can strangle an organization.
Considering the cost to get your data back, you should be prepared to lose it. Backup any data you cannot go without. In all likelihood, these backups will be the difference between having this data, and having to go without this data.
[This is the first part of a series of articles covering data loss, backups, and interrelated topics encountered by Internetwork Consulting . ]