Enterprises don't like to discuss how often backups fail to take place, restorations prove unsuccessful and damaged media ships out for data recovery.
"If you discover data loss, you don't necessarily want to broadcast that," said John Sloan, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group.
Data recovery firms, however, aren't pressed for business.
On average, Kroll Ontrack performs 50,000 recoveries each year across 24 countries, said Canadian operations manager John Riddell. This number encompasses everything from end users to enterprise servers, he pointed out.
CBL Data Recovery Technologies, which has 17 labs worldwide, completed 21,000 projects last year, according to president and CEO William Margeson.
Enterprise recovery projects usually result from the physical failure of hard drives coming from RAID setups, noted Riddell.
"If they have one drive fail, they're okay ... but generally, when we're seeing more than two drives failing at a time, they're calling us and saying they can't restore their RAID because they have lost multiple drives," said Riddell.
And there isn't much enterprise can do to prevent this.
"There's no real cause that we can determine," Riddell continued. "Sometimes it's heat, sometimes it's the age of the hard drives, but there's no way of preventing the drive from failing. That's why there is a redundancy in place to try and prevent it as much as possible."
But the following advice from data recovery experts and analysts will help enterprises from making the problems worse.
Verify your backups and focus on restoration
Enterprises must confirm their backups are taking place, suggested Margeson, who recommended performing "backup fire drills."
"If you want to find out how protected you really are, walk in one day unannounced and demand to see a restoration of some backed-up data. All of a sudden, the realities will be flushed out," said Margeson.
Responses will include, "Bob, our IT guy, is not here today, we can't do it," "We don't know where that tape is," and "Wait a minute, we don't know how to restore this old backup technology because we've upgraded," he said.