The Gallery: 8 Ways State Government Staff Can Minimize Data Loss after a Storm

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Working within any state government or as the IT specialist within a government department, your job does not stop for anything. When a hurricane barrels through your area, it is critical to understand how to respond in the event that your devices and storage systems are damaged. With the kind of responsibilities that you and your staff hold, it is of the upmost importance to educate your organizations on how to respond to damaged devices from a hurricane or any other storm. Lost time after a storm will affect your operations in a devastating way if action is not taken.

Here are eight recommendations I have for minimizing data loss after a storm (which are important for staff to note wherever they may be accessing their devices – whether off-site or in the office):

1. Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter what it has been through. Making assumptions is the worst thing you could do for your data. Often times, individuals will assume that data is unsalvageable after water damage, leaving them with lost hope.

2. Never attempt to plug in or turn on water damaged-devices. Plugging in a water-damaged device can cause severe further impacts to your devices and is also harmful to your personal safety.

3. Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged. Improper handling can cause further damage, which can lead to valuable information which was once recoverable being lost.

4. Never attempt to dry water-damaged media. Opening the media incorrectly can make it impossible for a professional to recover the data and exposing it to heat, such as that from a hairdryer, can damage the drive components. Also, once the media begins to dry, corrosion begins. Keeping a water-damaged drive damp can actually improve your chances for recovery.

5. Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged computers or hard drives. Doing so could cause further damage and render your data unrecoverable.

6. Do not freeze-dry media. This also causes irreparable damage to the device and can render data unrecoverable.

7. Do not use common software utility programs on broken or water-damaged devices. Data recovery software is only designed for use on a drive that is completely and mechanically functioning.

8. For mission-critical situations, contact a data recovery professional before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall or reformat. Recovering time-sensitive materials is critical to the overall success of a business or individuals’ recovery. If you are unsure about which path to take with your data, it is always best to contact a professional immediately.

With the state’s departmental staff and local government offices relying on you, be sure you are honest and transparent with how to protect devices and if any downtime will be experienced and also how to prepare prior to a storm. Below, I have given four recommendations on how to protect devices prior to a storm in order to minimize data loss:

1. To prevent damage caused by lightning strikes, install a surge protector between the power source and the computer’s power cable to handle any power spikes or surges.

2. Invest in some form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which uses batteries to keep computers running during power outages. UPS systems also help manage an orderly shutdown of the computer – unexpected shutdowns from power surge problems can cause data loss.

3. Check your protection devices regularly. At least once a year, you should inspect your power protection devices to make sure that they are functioning properly.

4. Backup your data and verify that the backup worked. Store the backup offsite, at a separate location, to try to avoid both the originals and backups getting damaged in the same storm.

Lay the groundwork that government should be the first line of defense when it comes to setting standards for private businesses to follow.

By By Todd Johnson, Kroll Ontrack

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