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The Cost Of Failure

Don't get caught with a huge bill

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire forensic recovery specialist David Watson. People take him their computers when they have been scorched by fire, damaged by vandals, erased by criminals or when they are simply broken.

"I had a guy phone me up. He was upgrading his operating system and it went wrong. He lost the whole of his Outlook data and didn't have a backup . He's a recruitment consultant and he has five years' worth of CVs and details of every client and vacancy in Outlook. His turnover was around �500,000 a year and if I hadn't been able to do a forensic recovery on the hard disk, he would have lost it all. It's his business and it's his mortgage on the line."

How much is your business worth ? For smaller business, losses like these are often catastrophic. Lose your customer database; lose your business. With expert technical support running to �200 an hour or more, even getting your data back is going to be very expensive, not to mention time consuming.

The 2004 DTI Information Security Breaches Survey reports that the average cost of a security incident was �7,000 - �14,000. And while it suggests that most businesses have some form of backup, only a third keep copies of the data offsite and many use inadequate backup systems.

But ne'er-do-wells are the not the only risk. A typical computer hard drive has a 'mean time between failures' of about 500,000 hours - around 57 years. But that doesn't mean they're guaranteed to last that long. In fact, yours could break in six months. Dust and debris can get into the system or the drive motor can fail.

No backup? I pity the fool. If you don't run regular backups, keep copies offsite and test that you can restore them you're asking for trouble

Consider getting RAID arrays for critical server files. These systems spread data across several disks so a failure on any single disk doesn't destroy the data

I love it when a (computer security) plan comes together. Write one, implement it and keep it up to date. The cheapest way to avoid disaster is to plan for it

If your computer's on the jazz and you think you need help to recover the data, don't wait. Isolate the machine immediately. Don't use it in case you write over precious data. Get help

Unlike Col. Hannibal Smith, you don't need to be afraid of the law. If it's a criminal matter - theft, fraud, sabotage for example - call your local high-tech crime unit . They'll respect your confidentiality and can bring significant resources to bear if necessary

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