Help, I Lost My Data in the Cloud!

Cloud data loss normally results from human error. Even if a storage drive fails and data is irrevocably lost, it’s because someone didn’t hit a switch; hot-swap a dying drive; a user or IT person hit something they shouldn’t have; not to mention failure to complete timely backups! Things will happen. Bad, sometimes irreversible things.

stealing the cloud
photo credit: Paul Octavious

It could be entirely your fault. Maybe you hit the “delete forever” icon after having a few too many, or with a kid hanging off your neck, and didn’t realize what you were doing til it was too late. Calling your provider and screaming won’t bring that data back. This is especially true if you’re utilizing a free cloud storage service, like Google, Dropbox, or others listed in this Lifehacker.com article.

The Inescapable Reality

If you’ve lost your data in the cloud, and you don’t have a physical backup available, your hands are tied with regard to whether it will be recovered or not. You could recover your data, but you need to hire a cloud-savvy and reliable file recovery service provider.

If you’re using a paid cloud service (and you probably should be for the important stuff), you have the right to demand that the provider do everything in their power to get the data back for you. Of course, you need to refer to the terms-of-service as the basis of your claim (you DID read the TOS, didn’t you?)

Sadly, prevention is the only way to avoid this problem in the future. Your lost data is in cyberspace. When you agreed to save it there, you took away any real measure of control you had to protect the integrity of your data, unless you:

  • Back up your cloud-based data to another cloud service – even a free one or two is fine.
  • Back your data up to a local hard drive (this is sort of counter-intuitive because the cloud should be your backup, not the other way around!)

Notice both option involve you “backing up” not “relying upon”?

Either option, particularly the second one might seem like more trouble than they’re worth. However, cloud services were created for convenience; not as a be-all and end-all for your data storage. Saving your pictures, videos, mp3’s, documents, etc., in the cloud doesn’t mean that it’s there forever. The cloud isn’t some magical indestructible server in the sky!

There are plenty of problems that you can encounter in using any cloud service. Poor management on their end, or lack of education on yours, can spell imminent disaster. See this Yahoo Finance article about some of the more common issues related to relying on the cloud for data storage.

3 Essential Tips to Avoid Future Problems

Use the three tips below which will talk you through using cloud storage more effectively, so you never lose your data again!

1. Use the cloud as a backup source, not as your main…

If you use the other two tips listed further on, and ensure that you have a physical drive with your data, the chances of losing anything forever are slim to none. Data loss is never an impossible event regardless of the measures you take, but it’s almost nil when you have a physical source combined with a cloud-based option.

If you or your sales team use the cloud for storage while you’re on the road, make it a point to download that data to a drive or two every day. Get one of your employees such as admin or IT – or have each employee be responsible and accountable for their own data. You can also hire a brick-and-mortar company to take care of things for you.

There are lots of companies, including an emerging trend with computer repair shops, which offer physical data backups for less than $100 a month. Of course, if you could look into the future and know that you’ll never lose your data, this type of service is definitely a waste of money. But you know better don’t you?

When you have a physical device with corrupted/lost data on it, you have way more options to recover it. Read this article from About.com for more information.

2. Use a paid provider if you’re saving your SMB or corporate data…

This should be common sense. Of course free is always the more desireable option, and we know that services like Dropbox and Google will have measures in place to protect data even for their free options; but they’re not perfect. There are too many things that can go wrong on your end or the providers – paid solutions offer more Disaster Recovery options.

They also have recovery experts on hand 24 hours a day, and will respond to your issue promptly. A free provider has nothing to lose by not helping you, or dragging their feet. They don’t get paid, so there’s less incentive.

3. Use a cloud service brokerage (CSB)…

You’ve lost your data once. Perhaps you’ve escaped bankruptcy by a single hair on your chinny-chin-chin after losing your entire client list. That’s not going to happen again because you’re going to employ the affordable solutions offered by a CSB. These intermediaries take care of all the communication between you and your cloud service provider(s).

The big advantage is that you avoid compatibility and security issues between one provider or another. As you’ve already read, you should use more than one cloud source for your data. Trouble is, the all have different API’s (application programming interfaces), meaning it isn’t always easy to transfer even simple data from one provider to another. A CSB will work with any and all API’s and take care of data transfer, while auditing each provider’s security protocols frequently, and initiating any other actions you need taken care of seamlessly.

They’re also a great way to combine free storage and paid storage options in order to save money. If you have a mixture of sensitive and not-so-sensitive data to work with, the CSB can practically pay for itself by helping you to cut storage costs. You tell them what you need, and they go out and hire the services, essentially removing the need for you to learn the technical mumbo jumbo!

If you have more tips, please don’t hesitate to spill the beans and share them with us!

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  • It’s very important that you always have a back-up system that you can cling on just in case this scenario happens. You need to make sure that your provider has a well rounded recovery plan system before signing up an agreement with them.