Your business has done the smart thing.
From internal emails to shared files, you’ve placed all your company’s essential data in the cloud. No more updates for fully hosted applications. No more security patches.
And certainly no more worries about losing your data. After all, cloud storage data loss is an impossibility, right?
While leveraging a cloud services provider will certainly mitigate your risk, it’s not a 100% failproof solution. That’s something we saw firsthand when our client’s company calendar seemed to disappear from Office 365…
Why Our Client’s Calendar Disappeared
Like many companies, our client relied on Office 365 and its cloud storage for their business operations. And one key item our client stored in the cloud was this: the company business calendar.
This calendar was housed in Microsoft’s public folders—a solution that creates a place for storing shared content.
But one day, the company calendar was nowhere to be seen.
Our client contacted us, and it wasn’t long before we were communicating with Microsoft about the situation.
At first glance, it looked like a case of cloud storage data loss.
The good news was, our client’s folder wasn’t permanently gone. A Microsoft update had actually buried the folder beneath another folder.
The disappearance of our client’s calendar turned out to be a minor issue. However, the situation actually highlighted something much more serious…
What You Need to Know about Cloud Storage Data Loss
During our investigation, Microsoft told us that they didn’t support backup for our client’s public folders.
Even though our client was using a cloud solution, if their public folders’ data was lost, our client could never retrieve it.
This might come as something of a surprise.
You’d think that, if Microsoft supported a solution using cloud storage, it would also guarantee that solution’s data. But this is simply not the case.
The reality is, cloud storage data loss is a complete possibility. Here are some risks you should be aware of…
1. Your cloud services company can decide to discontinue an offering.
As this example demonstrates, the decision to back up your data is completely dependent on your software provider’s decisions.
Should they decide to retire a service or discontinue support, your data may—or may not—receive the security it needs.
2. Your cloud services company might experience a crash.
It can happen. You can experience cloud storage data loss because your provider simply let you down.
Check out this article that explains how “Amazon’s huge EC2 cloud services crash permanently destroyed some data.”
3. Your employees might delete critical information.
A well-known reason for cloud storage data loss?
A few simple clicks can send your mission-critical data down a black hole…never to be seen again.
And data deletion is something your cloud services provider can’t prevent. Think about it. When someone puts an item in the trash, the cloud is being instructed to remove certain information. When someone deletes this data, the cloud is simply doing its job.
But this isn’t exactly why data deletion is so dangerous.
It’s the fact that cloud services providers have retention times.
StorageCraft, writing on user deletion and retention times, reveals that Office 365 has a stipulation for its “Recoverable Items,” which they explain holds previously deleted items. They note…
The Recoverable Items folder has its own size quota of 100GB. If the Recoverable Items folder is full, Office will delete your messages, starting with the oldest. So if the folder is full, unfortunately you may not be able to recover your data.
To give another example, check out this page from Google. Here, Google reveals that, once a deletion is set in motion, it only takes “about six months” for customer data to disappear from Google’s backup systems.
As you can see, there are several ways you’re at risk for cloud storage data loss.
And each of these realities spells trouble for organizations.
What You Can Do about Cloud Storage Data Loss
Given this information, it’s important to make sure you’re not blindsided by a policy change, deletion, or unexpected failure in reliability.
Here are some tips we have for helping your organization mitigate the risk of cloud storage data loss:
1. Don’t make assumptions—especially for legacy solutions or free services.
You can’t assume that your software provider stands behind the data you’ve placed in its cloud.
It only takes one policy change to make cloud storage data loss a possibility.
As the years go by, providers have a decreased incentive to support older software. That’s why you need to research the organization’s official stance on cloud backup.
If you use a legacy solution containing data that would be devastating to lose, take a second look at your provider’s policy. (On a side note, I’d recommend navigating to newer software so you avoid a situation like this.)
You’ll also want to avoid assumptions regarding free services.
A free service can limit your ability to recover data. For example, if you use the free version of Dropbox, you can’t recover files. However, this functionality is available if you pay for Dropbox.
All that to say, make sure you do your homework.
2. Communicate with your software provider.
Policies can get complicated.
And who wants to read through 25 pages of jargon to determine whether or not company data is protected?
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and make a call to your software provider. (Or, if you’re not a phone person, try sending an email or starting a live chat.)
And before you reach out, think through the questions you’d like to ask. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- “Is my data backed up?” Don’t worry about sounding ignorant. This question is too important, and you need a clear-cut answer.
- “How far is the data backed up?” You’ll want to know how far into the past your cloud storage reaches.
- “Is there a time limit on retrieval?” For example, if you accidentally delete data, will you be able to retrieve it one month later? What if you wait six months? To give an example, StorageCraft reveals that the default for saving deleted items in Office 365 is 30 days.
- “If my data gets encrypted by a virus, can we get our data back?” This is an important question because most cloud providers allow you to store a local copy of files on a business computer. However, ransomware can encrypt these files—which then get synced to the cloud, thus encrypting all your cloud data. If a situation like this occurs, you need to know that you can recover your pre-encrypted files. You also need to ask how long this will take.
3. Don’t place all your eggs in one basket.
If the loss of certain files can shut down your operations, I wouldn’t rely on Microsoft, Google, or any other provider by itself to secure your data.
Instead, diversify your data backups.
Companies are fallible. And the threat of cloud storage data loss isn’t trivial.
In a case like this, no single company should have your complete confidence.
For highly sensitive data, I’d suggest finding a backup for your cloud services. If you use cloud storage for files that are mission critical for your operations, the same advice applies. For instance, if you’re an event company, protecting a shared events calendar is especially important. (If needed, our team can connect you with a solution to provide this extra layer of security.)
Whether your business needs cloud storage or you simply want to discuss cloud storage data loss, we’re here to help.
To get in touch with our team, don’t hesitate to reach out online or give us a ring at 704-464-3075.