NAS Storage: Friend or Foe for Small and Medium Sized Businesses?
Kroll Ontrack today announced that the number of NAS recoveries performed by its Ontrack® Data Recovery service in the UK has grown by a staggering 69 percent over the past year. Whilst NAS offers many attractive benefits, including value for money, faster data access and relatively low administration costs, Kroll Ontrack urges users, especially small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), to plan for the safe and secure storage of their data. This is ever more important as experts predict that global data will soon approach one zettabyte of digital storage.
Gartner believes that the small office/home office market will drive the fast growth of the sub-£3,000 price band market for NAS in part thanks to the ease of use of the technology platform. Thus, Gartner forecasts that the NAS market will recover from the slow 1.4% growth in 2009 to a double-digit growth rate of 26.4% in 2010.
However, the risks of data loss from NAS, as with any other type of storage technology, should not be overlooked. Perhaps the biggest danger is the fact that NAS systems often use proprietary, non-standard file systems unique to the manufacturer, so an emergency data recovery can prove costly.
Couple this with other threats to data loss, including human error, hardware failure and outside malicious attacks, and it becomes clear that there is a need for companies to take a proactive approach to safeguarding their data – their company’s most valuable asset. In addition, a recent global survey by Kroll Ontrack found that 40 percent of respondents identified human error as the most common cause of data loss, so it is especially important that employees understand best practices when it comes to the safe storage of company data on NAS.
"The value of company data is still underestimated by most SMBs. Data backup is in many businesses a neglected chore, despite the fact that there are simple steps that can be taken to significantly improve data security," commented Phil Bridge, managing director at Kroll Ontrack. "In a data loss emergency, it is important to understand the steps to enable the data to be restored as quickly and painlessly as possible, and reduce the initial panic that can be felt following a disk failure and also help to prevent further mistakes from occurring."
Ontrack Data Recovery experts suggest the following steps for users on how they can minimise the risk of suffering a data loss.
- Do not try to cut corners, as attempting to save pennies could end up costing you pounds. When purchasing hard drives for RAID systems, choose hard drives capable of running round the clock with fast access time and a large cache. Security tools, such as virus scanners and firewalls, protect the stored data against external threats and should be employed.
- RAID is essential. Companies of any size should at the very least use a RAID 5. The hardware costs are negligible, especially if you calculate the value of the information against the cost of a data loss.
- RAID 0 offers no data protection. It only allows for faster data access and does not improve data security. RAID 0 is only recommended for applications where data security is not important.
- Buy different hard drives from production batches in order to help dilute any production error or failure vulnerability, and also lower the risk of hard drives failing within a short time in a chain reaction.
- Use standards. It is recommended to use standardised disks with Microsoft FAT, Microsoft NTFS, or Linux EXT3 or XFS file systems. Proprietary formats with little or no documented file systems can make an emergency data recovery costly and time consuming.
- Trust is good; control is better. Backups should always be tested. An incomplete or irretrievable backup is worth nothing.
- NAS schedule. Ensure that the NAS in use is documented and that BIOS version, controller version and the file system details are recorded. Accurate documentation can help facilitate data recovery and it also plays a major role for compliance.
- Matter of practice. Advanced NAS solutions should be tested by experienced staff before they are fully installed. Improper extensions can cause complete failure and ultimately lead to data loss.
- Double backup. Data recovery even in a NAS with RAID configuration is usually possible but costly, so it is advisable to regularly create an additional backup on other storage media for critical data.
- Obtain insurance against data loss. Complications through inability to access data are an incalculable risk, so insurance can protect against the financial consequences for the recovery of data after system failures, as well as data loss caused by fire or water, vandalism, burglary, or hardware failure.
- Access control. If the private network is used by multiple users, you should be aware of who can access what data.
"In a data loss situation, it is important to keep calm and not panic. Most importantly, do not try to recover the data yourself, as all too often this causes further problems and can make any kind of data recovery impossible,” said Rob Winter, chief engineer, Kroll Ontrack.