Data, data, where is my data? Print
Written by Tom Welch   
Wednesday, 31 October 2007

I remember as a child playing the button game. For those unfamiliar with the game, here is how it is played: Line up all of the players in a straight line. Select one person to be the tailor and pull him from the line. The tailor hands a button to the very first player in the line. This player cups the button in his hands and then holds his hands over the next player's cupped hands. He can either drop the button into the player's hands or may keep the button and conceal it in his own hands. The second player goes through the same procedure with the third player. He may either keep the button or pass it along. If a player does not receive the button, he will still pretend to pass a button along to the next player. The tailor is to watch each player very closely as each turn is taken. When the last player in the line has been reached, the tailor is asked, “Button, button, who has the button?” If the tailor answers correctly, he receives a prize and moves to the end of the line, and the player at the beginning of the line becomes the tailor.

In today's evolving Web 2.0 environment, it can be a challenge to know where your data resides. Like the button game, your data may pass through various hands until it stops somewhere. Figuring out where the data can be—and understanding how to protect that data—can be a challenge, especially in a corporate environment.

Take, for example, your personal data. Most people have their data spread out across various systems. Some keep all of their data on their computer hard drive. Others use USB keys, while some will use various online data storage services. Still others will keep all of their data on network file shares. Each of these mediums has drawbacks that will often result in documents that are duplicated across various systems.

Expand the example to a corporation. Each program in use within the business may keep data in a different location or format. Large businesses have been built around trying to solve the data backup and storage problem. Yet at the end of the day it seems that the best solution for IT staff is to try and back up all servers and their associated data. This does not solve the problem of data that is leaking out through USB keys, online storage systems outside of the corporation's control, and through personal laptops that are not connected to the network all of the time.

At the Church we have extensive backup policies and procedures that we follow to ensure that all data is kept secure and backed up. However, it is a struggle to keep up on all of the disparate and diverse systems that must be backed up. I am curious as to what policies and procedures people have found successful in safeguarding corporate and personal data. Leave feedback in our forums by sharing your ideas.