Mobile Devices, Virtualization Drive Data Recovery Challenges

VARs and managed services providers offering data recovery services should get ready for a rough-and-tumble year. According to research from Kroll Ontrack, the ubiquity of mobile devices will cause challenges in 2013, especially since new mobile platforms such as Microsoft Surface and Microsoft Office 365 will drive further use of tablets at work. Organizations will need to find ways to accommodate this trend in a secure environment, with both data recovery and data destruction playing a key role in planning.

Virtualization and migration to new IT platforms can also cause challenges for corporations, who may lose vital data as part of the process if they fail to back up their data properly in the interim. Kroll Ontrack said that one platform to be aware of is Windows Server 2012, formerly Windows Server 8, which will incorporate a new file system. Windows 2012 also comes with a new file system (ReFS) and a new storage management system (Storage Spaces).

“Technology continues to improve in terms of the value it adds to organizations, but the flipside is that data can be at risk during the transition phase if companies do not maintain effective backups,” said Todd Johnson, vice president of operations at Kroll Ontrack. “Our role is to anticipate the challenges new technologies cause. We already have our developers researching all of these new systems in order to add support for them to our tools.”

The rise of mobile devices in the workplace and widespread adoption of virtualization drove an increase in data recovery requests globally last year too, even as small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular adopted virtual environments. Kroll Ontrack experienced an influx in mobile device data recovery requests in 2012 – in line with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) to work trend. Specifically, the ratio went from 50 percent desktop-sized hard drives (3.5 inch format) and 50 percent laptop-sized hard drives (2.5 inch or smaller format) in 2010, to 20 percent desktop-sized drives and 80 percent laptop-sized drives, which also includes external memory, tablets and phones, in 2012.

With an increase in virtualization adoption came an increase in data loss from these environments, the company also reported, with Ontrack Data Recovery engineers at Kroll Ontrack seeing a 10 percent increase in user errors, such as administrators deleting virtual drives by mistake.

Encryption proved to be another data recovery challenge for 2012 and will be a driver going forward. As devices with hardware-based encryption became more widespread because of faster processing speeds, the use of software-based encryption decreased. Included as a standard feature, manufacturers shipped external hard disk drives (HDD) with the encryption functionality activated. Users were often unaware that their hardware encryption was active, instead believing the HDD to simply be password protected. While encrypted drives are more secure, encryption adds an extra layer of complexity and makes it a more painstaking task to recover lost data.

Looking forward, Kroll Ontrack predicts that SSDs will continue to cause individual users and businesses data recovery issues in 2013. The complexity of how data is stored on SSDs makes data recovery highly specialized and time-consuming. A single SSD recovery can be as complex as a RAID recovery with eight, 16 or even 32 drives.

”SSDs are a newer technology, and very few data recovery providers have the ability to handle the RAID and  SSD layers required to put the data together in the event of a failure,” said Jeff Pederson, manager of data recovery operation at Kroll Ontrack. “Recovery requires specialized tools and software, and usually a significant investment in R&D, as data is stored in a different way on each drive. When evaluating SSDs against traditional hard disks, organizations need to make sure that they take into consideration the possibility of data loss and the subsequent need for a more time-consuming data recovery.”


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