Top 5 IT administrator errors – revealed

The five most common IT administrator errors that can lead to network downtime and data loss have been revealed, alongside ‘best practices’ to follow if either disaster can’t be avoided.

The five are:

1. Failure to document and execute established IT, retention and backup procedures 

A test server moves into production, but no one informs IT that it is now capturing valuable data, and the data is not being backed up.

Or a key ‘knowledge-holder’ for the environment leaves or goes away, creating confusion or an undocumented pool of unknown detail about the configuration and use of the system.

2. Failure to backup effectively

Although 61% of end-users were recently found to have a backup in place at the time of data loss, either the backup was

  • not functioning properly, or/and;
  • - the desired storage device was not included in the backup, or/and;
  • - the backup was not up-to-date

So testing backup policies, identifying correct storage and validating backup integrity are critical steps IT administrators should be taking.

3. Delay in infrastructure or security investments

Many cases of data loss are a result of companies failing to invest in infrastructure updates or security

4. Failure to adhere to/maintain relevant security policies and/or keep OS and security controls up-to-date

Even small failures in IT security can lead to data loss and expense. So IT admins should be leveraging elevated privileges appropriately, restricting passwords to required users, and changing them when they or an any other IT administrator leaves the outfit. They should also be adequately updating OS security patches and malware protection controls to guard against cyber-attacks and malicious agents.

5. Deleting data that is still in active use

Data recovery processes on tapes or server networks that are thought to be out of use by the end-user often still contain active data.

Best practices in light of data loss

If the above errors cannot be avoided and data loss occurs, the following best practices can help towards effective resolution, said Kroll Ontrack, which issued both the errors and the best practices, below.  

Avoid panicking and rushing to action

If data loss happens, companies should not restore data to the source volume from backup because this is where the data loss occurred in the first place. They should also not create new data on the source volume, as it could be corrupt or damaged.

Be confident in skills and knowledge

IT professionals must continue to help leadership avoid making decisions that do more harm than good. When specifically faced with a possible data loss event, the volume should quickly be taken off line. Data is being overwritten at a rapid pace, and the volume should not be formatted to resolve corruption.

Have a plan

Technology teams should follow established ITIL processes and ensure data centre documentation is complete and revisited often to ensure it is up-to-date. In particular, IT workers should not run volume utilities (CHKDSK/FSCK) or update firmware during a data loss event.

Know the environment (and the data).

Techies must understand what their storage environment can handle and how quickly it can recover. Knowing what data is critical or irreplaceable, whether it can be re-entered or replaced, and the costs for getting that data up and running to a point of satisfaction is important. The tech team must weigh up the costs and risks when determining what is most urgent - getting their systems up and running quickly or protecting the data that is there.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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