No Summer Vacation for Data Loss

Tips to protect against data loss during severe weather, heat, electrical storms and major disasters

According to Ontrack Data Recovery, extreme summer weather and the hurricane season cause a significant increase in data loss incidents during the summer months meaning computers users need to pay special attention to protecting their valuable data starting immediately. From intense heat to electrical storms to major disasters like hurricanes, there are a variety of potential problems that can lead to data disasters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently predicted a "very active" Atlantic Hurricane season for 2006 with up to 10 hurricanes, of which four to six could become "major" hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. After witnessing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and several other storms that affected the US last year, it is imperative that proactive steps are taken to ensure proper data protection.

"As Katrina proved last year, summer storms can cause major data loss problems – but people shouldn’t forget about other weather-related issues like overheating," said Jim Reinert, senior director of Software and Services for Ontrack Data Recovery. "A few simple steps can help computer users prepare for the upcoming season and avoid the headaches caused by weather-related data loss."

Ontrack offers these tips to help protect against damage from severe summer weather and lessen the chances of data loss if damage does occur:

  • Summer heat can be a significant problem as drive failures can result from overheating. Keep your computer in a cool, dry area to prevent overheating;
  • If you are dealing with large servers, make sure they have adequate air conditioning. Increases in computer processor speed have resulted in more power requirements, which in turn require better cooling – especially important during the summer months;
  • Electrical storms can be a major problem during summer. Make sure to install a surge protector between the power source and the computer’s power cable to handle any power spikes or surges.
  • 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;
  • Check protection devices regularly: At least once a year you should inspect your power protection devices to make sure that they are functioning properly. Most good ones will have a signaling light to tell you when they are protecting your equipment properly;
  • Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged – improper handling can make recovery operations more difficult which can lead to valuable information being lost;
  • Never attempt to dry water-damaged media by opening it or exposing it to heat – such as that from a hairdryer;
  • Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged devices;
  • For mission critical situations, contact a data recovery professional before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall or reformat.
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