5 Common IT Administrator Mistakes Leading to Data Loss
The five most common mistakes made by IT
administrators that can lead to data loss.
Given the complexity and capacity of advanced storage
devices and the criticality of organizational data, documentation and best
practice implementation are critical when it comes to protecting data.
With data stored in multiple locations
and on multiple devices, loss at any level can be very detrimental, putting IT
administrators in the hot seat to provide fast issue resolution and minimise
downtime. Under such extreme pressure, IT teams may be overlooking established
ITIL best practices for IT service management in the pursuit of urgent issue
resolution, leaving organisations at risk of data loss.
To reduce the potential for critical
data loss when managing IT processes and responding to IT issues, avoid falling
prey to these common IT mistakes:
Even the most seasoned IT teams will eventually face urgent
issues and need to make quick decisions on how to respond and proceed. Follow
these best practices to ensure the best chance of effective resolution and
reduce the risk of data loss:
- Failure to document and
execute established IT, retention and backup procedures.
A test server moves into production, but no one has informed IT that it is
now capturing valuable data, and the data is not being backed up. Or,
inaccurate documentation has IT administrators decommissioning a SAN that is
actually still in production, resulting in data loss.
- Failure to keep OS and
anti-virus software up to date. Days
are busy and resources are stretched, but failing to update OS security
patches and anti-virus software can result in treacherous security breaches
and extensive data loss.
- Failure to backup
effectively. In a recent survey, 60%
had a backup in place at the time of loss, but the backup was not working
properly at the time of loss. Failure to establish and follow backup
procedures, or test and verify backup integrity is a guaranteed recipe for
- Deleting data that is still
in active use. This may be surprising,
but you'd be astonished how often Companies performs data recovery on tapes
or server networks that are thought to be out of use, but still contain
active data. Do your due diligence and ensure the data you delete is no
longer of value.
- Failure to test IT security
policies. Even the smallest failure in
IT security can lead to devastating results, including critical data loss
and huge expense. Restrict IT administrator passwords only to required
users, and change them when an IT administrator leaves the company. Some of
the most compelling data loss cases are the result of a disgruntled employee
with a live password intentionally deleting large amounts of critical
- Take considered action.
Don't panic; make informed decisions when determining a resolution. Consider
repercussions and weigh consequences. Rash decision-making may result in
more data loss and downtime, not to mention cost and resource overload. If
data loss happens, don't restore data to the source volume from backup - it
is where the data loss occurred in the first place. And, don't create new
data on the source volume - it could be corrupt or damaged.
- Be confident in your skills
and knowledge. You are part of the
solution, not part of the problem. When pressured by organization leaders to
get systems up and running at any cost, advocate as a subject matter expert.
Help leaders avoid making decisions that do more harm than good. When
specifically faced with a possible data lost event, take the volume off
line, and be quick! Data is being overwritten at a rapid pace. And, don't
format the volume to resolve corruption.
- Have a plan.
Follow established ITIL processes and ensure data center documentation is
complete and revisited often to ensure it is up to date. In particular, do
not run volume utilities (CHKDSK/FSCK) or update firmware during a data loss
- Know your environment (and
your data). Understand what your
storage environment can handle and how quickly it can recover. Know what
data is critical or irreplaceable, whether it can be re-entered or replaced,
and the costs for getting that data up and running to a point of
satisfaction. Weigh the costs and risks when determining what is most urgent
- getting your system up and running quickly or protecting the data that is
- When in doubt, call a data
recovery company. While your OEM may be
a good starting point, the value of your data and the potential for data
loss when getting your system backup and running may not be top of mind. Be
sure to consult a reputable data recovery company if concerns over data loss