Simple Steps Now Can Avoid the Need for Data Recovery Procedures Later: Learn the D.R.E.S.S. Code

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Taking a few simple steps now to make sure your critical data is safely backed up can help avoid data loss in the future. The D.R.E.S.S code can help you remember the proper steps to take. These same steps help keep your business going. Failure to take action could result in severe harm to a business, even to the point of business failure, in the event of a data loss.

The data recovery experts at counsel clients every day to follow the three rules of data safety: Backup, Backup, and Backup. Many clients take their failed hard drives and other failed media devices back to their offices as paperweights to remind themselves to backup their data regularly. Beyond the simple instruction to backup are the five rules of proper backup procedures. Too often it is learned that backups have not been performed properly at that critical time when they are needed: at the point of a hard drive failure.

The first essential component of backup procedures is the discipline to perform the backup in the first place and on a regular basis. For some users the frequency needed is daily. For others it may be weekly or hourly. Technicians at advise clients to examine their needs for data backup and create a schedule that best serves their individual interests. Once decided, the task must be performed on schedule. In the first rule of data backup, D is for Discipline.

The backup media selected to carry out backup procedures is another issue to consider. A variety of backup devices are available. The choice to use an external hard drive, a tape drive, DVD’s, CDs, or any other removable media should be made with consideration for your specific data backup needs. At , we recommend a consultation with your primary computer maintenance technician. Care should be given in this choice to make sure the media chosen allows for a complete backup of data on a single unit. Backups that span multiple media units have a higher risk of failure. Some backup situations will require the spanning of media, but it should be avoided whenever possible. While not a hard-and-fast rule, consider this a rule wherever possible.

Once a backup media is selected, it is time to understand the second rule of backup procedures: Rotation of the media. This is important because of the potential for the backup device itself to fail. Assuming a once-per-week backup schedule, the first backup would be accomplished on the one tape, external drive, etc. The following week the backup would be performed on a different unit. At this point there are three copies of the data: One on the media being backed-up, another on the week-old device, and a third on the most recently used device. If backing up to CDs or DVDs, the data recovery experts at highly urge you to use write-once media, not re-writable disks. At the present time re-writable disks have a higher rate of failure themselves. In the second rule of data backup, R is for Rotation.

The third rule of backup practice is to evaluate or test the backup to insure it has integrity. Merely checking the logs of your chosen backup software is not enough. The backup itself needs to be tested in the restore mode to make certain it is good. Depending on your needs, this can be a partial or complete restore operation. It may be done on a different computer or to a different directory structure on the same computer. Never overwrite the original files during the evaluation procedure. Once done, a sampling of the files can be made by opening random files from the restore location to determine that they are not corrupted. In the third rule of data backup, E is for Evaluation.

The fourth rule is following proper storage practices. If your chosen backup device is a CD/DVD, don’t hang it from the rearview mirror in your car. If it’s a tape, don’t leave it in the glove box. Your minimum storage criteria should be that as specified by the manufacturer. In the fourth rule of data backup, S is for Storage.

The fifth rule of backup is the easiest to accomplish: Geographical separation. Once a backup is made and evaluated, separate it from the device being backed-up. Having gone to the trouble to make a backup of your data, you do not want to risk the loss of the original and the backup due to fire, water damage, theft, etc. A fireproof safe in the same location is reasonable only if the media can also withstand the heat it may encounter should a fire occur. Taking one copy to a safety deposit box or simply taking the backup home will provide a safe distance for most users’ needs. In the fifth rule of data backup, S is for Separation.

The D.R.E.S.S. Code (Discipline Rotation Evaluation Storage Separation) can insure your data is properly backed up and safe when you need it. is a long-standing data recovery services company located in Dallas, Texas, which constantly counsels clients on ways to avoid needing expert data recovery services.

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Jim Fruth