Data Recovery - Learning from Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina created a number of challenges for Gulf Coast businesses, chief among them being data protection. While many companies utilized remote data backup services - or had the foresight to ensure that their backups were completely safe – others were left with submerged computers and no backups.

Unfortunately, a high level of data protection can be very expensive and therefore out of reach for many small businesses, leaving them in a difficult position. If they didn’t have defined backup methods in place, some companies had to face the possibility of losing all of their critical data – potentially putting them out of business.

Thankfully, data recovery was available for companies that lacked sufficient backups due to ineffective data protection plans. Katrina proved that natural disasters have a way of putting our best laid plans to waste, so data recovery was an essential option when all others had been exhausted. The following stories of two gulf coast businesses demonstrate the importance of having a well-rounded disaster recovery plan that includes true data recovery.

Sawyer Real Estate had been a successful business in Gulfport, Mississippi for more than 100 years, but that business was in danger after owner Lenny Sawyer returned to Gulfport following Katrina’s arrival. The headquarters was destroyed and six feet of water filled his office, leaving computers submerged for several days. “Our life was on the hard drives in that office - rental records, financial data, everything,” said Sawyer.

Without recent backups, Sawyer figured they would have to rebuild from scratch. This would be a significant expense for his small business since other hurricane-related costs demanded attention. Luckily, Sawyer had heard about Ontrack Data Recovery and decided to try his luck. After evaluating his situation, Ontrack Data Recovery informed Sawyer that his chances for recovery were good. Ontrack Data Recovery explained that their success rate for flood jobs was just as high as their normal success rate – meaning a majority of those storm-damaged drives were most likely recoverable.

After working on Sawyer’s drive in their cleanroom, Ontrack Data Recovery recovery experts were able to repair the damage and rescue his data. “Even though the drives were sitting in a collapsed building, under water for more than five days, the recovery company was able to recover critical data we thought was gone forever,” said Sawyer. Thanks to Ontrack Data Recovery, Sawyer Real Estate recovered their data and was able to carry on with business throughout the difficult period.

Since a large percentage of companies that experience data loss never recover from the experience, it is crucial that different options exist for emergency situations. After all, there are some cases where businesses think they are completely protected, but emergencies still cause problems. Hurricane Katrina was one of these cases as the sheer magnitude of the storm posed unforeseen issues for several companies even though they were protected.

Seemann Composites, a custom fabricator of advanced composites and products, has thousands of files with proprietary information that cannot be recreated. Office Manager Jan Niolon feared their main office on the coast would be damaged by Katrina, so she took the company’s backup tapes and stored them in an offsite location several miles away.

“We do custom work for every job so original files are crucial to our business," said Niolon. Unfortunately, Katrina flooded their main production facility with enough water to cover all of their computer equipment and files, and also hit the offsite location, flooding the backup tapes as well.

Thankfully, Niolon supplemented her data backup plan with data recovery services from Ontrack Data Recovery. "We were in danger of losing several years worth of unique data," said Niolon. "We needed access to our files since we do a lot of work for the government and are subject to defense contract audits. Utilizing data recovery eased those concerns by retrieving files we thought were unrecoverable and helping us get back to business as usual.” Niolon received much of the lost data back, helping Seemann continue with current projects and ensure they were protected for the future.

As these examples prove, data recovery services can be crucial to businesses in need. Although a solid backup plan is definitely the best way to keep your company protected, establishing a relationship with a data recovery provider like Ontrack Data Recovery is an excellent enhancement to include in any disaster recovery plan. In addition to the problems highlighted in these situations from Katrina, it’s important to note that backups are often susceptible to problems of their own.

Reliability is the major issue, as a high percentage of backups fail every year. According to Microsoft, 42 percent of attempted recoveries from tape backups in the past year have failed. Strategic Research estimates that as many as 50 percent of remote backups fail. Since it is difficult and expensive to achieve “perfect” backups that option is simply out of reach for most small businesses.

Therefore, it is wise to implement a backup system that works on a regular schedule, utilizing some type of remote storage – but it is also important to include data recovery into the planning for worst case scenarios.

Businesses often waste valuable time and money looking for a data recovery solution when disaster strikes. Both Sawyer Real Estate and Seemann Composites avoided those difficulties by establishing a relationship with Ontrack Data Recovery as part of their planning. So whether your business is very prepared with regular backups or less prepared without that level of protection - you should always look at data recovery as a key part of recovery planning.


Hurricane Katrina and Data Recovery | Real Life Examples | Kroll Ontrack