Why Office files are More Important than Ever

Files created through Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) are often the result of many of an organization’s employees’ creative energy. If ransomware infects an organization’s data center, these are the files an organization struggles to recover. The typical reason given to pay a ransomware ransom is that the organization was unable to recover critical documents stored on a file server or a NAS. Often, a version of a file is recoverable but not “the” desired version of the file.

Although the ransomware is now a key motivator for organizations to improve their ability to protect unstructured data like office files, it is not the only reason. These files are also increasingly the target of compliance and new data privacy regulations that require not only adequate protection of data but also its deletion upon customer request.

Office files are also the most likely to be accidentally lost or deleted. Finding the files and recovering just the right version is essential. Users are not known for understanding exactly where they were storing the file or what date they think it might have last been on the file server. Most of the time, the user knows some semblance of the name of the file like “The Q4 Spreadsheet Budget.” This lack of information results in a very time-consuming trial and error series of searches and recoveries with the backup application.

Given the increase in value that users are ascribing to Office files and the ransomware threat that is targeting these files, almost directly, organizations need to significantly upgrade the frequency and quality of their protection of these files. Since ransomware can attack at any time and since Office files are very active initially, IT needs to protect them, along with other unstructured data, at least every four hours.

These backups also can’t be simple image copies. Image backups don’t provide the ability to search across various backups to find a specific version of a file. Also, images store files together as if there were one big blob. Selective removal of data from those blobs, to meet new data privacy demands is almost impossible. IT personnel need a solution that can provide context level searching so they can search for “Q4 Spreadsheet Budget” to find a file that was actually named “Q4-Budgeting and Spending Plan.xls” and then show the users the various versions of that file stored in the backup.

Motivations for protection also include protection against a problem with the file server’s or NAS system’s storage. If its disk fails, the users, at least for a while, lose access to all data. An attempt to recover a million files, one file at a time, is time-consuming. An unstructured data protection solution needs the ability to present a network mount of the file server or NAS’s volume almost instantly. Users can then path to the mount and access the exact files they need.

Office files are, of course, just one aspect of unstructured data, but it is a set of data that is particularly important to the organization’s users. In many cases, it is also the number one type of data that IT needs to recover. Finally, it is a primary target of ransomware. All of these factors add up to IT needing to reconsider its unstructured data backup processes and the solutions it uses to execute those processes.

In our presentation, “Are You Treating Unstructured Data as a Second Class Citizen?“, Storage Switzerland and Aparavi discuss why protecting unstructured data are more critical than ever, the challenges protecting unstructured data in the modern data center, and how IT can quickly and easily improve their unstructured data protection capabilities.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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