Saturday, May 9, 2009

Recovery from data loss

Successful recovery from a Data Loss Event generally requires an effective backup strategy. Without a backup strategy, recovery requires reinstallation of programs and regeneration of data. Even with an effective backup strategy, restoring a system to the precise state it was in prior to the Data Loss Event is extremely difficult. Some level of compromise between granularity of recoverability and cost is necessary. Furthermore, a Data Loss Event may not be immediately apparent. An effective backup strategy must also consider the cost of maintaining the ability to recover lost data for long periods of time.
The most convenient backup system would have duplicate copies of every file and program that were immediately accessible whenever a Data Loss Event was noticed. However, in most situations, there is an inverse correlation between the value of a unit of data and the length of time it takes to notice the loss of that data. Taking this into consideration, many backup strategies decrease the granularity of restorability as the time increases since the potential Data Loss Event. By this logic, recovery from recent Data Loss Events is easier and more complete than recovery from Data Loss Events that happened further in the past.
Recovery is also related to the type of Data Loss Event. Recovering a single lost file is going to be substantially different than recovering a whole system that was destroyed in a flood. An effective backup regimen will have some proportionality between the magnitude of Data Loss and the magnitude of effort required to recover. For example, it should be far easier to restore the single lost file than to recover the whole system destroyed in a flood.

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