A Burst Pipe Shows How Most of Us Ride the Edge with Our Data Protection

January 31, 2014

By Mae Kowalke - Power Protection Contributor

Is there anything more important than our data?

We take for granted that our contracts, our address book, our photos and our masterpieces are safe on our computer hard drive or network. But when disaster strikes, it quickly becomes apparent how exposed we and our data are to the elements and random mishaps.

Students at Western Kentucky University recently discovered how crisis can strike at any time and impact their digital lives.

Last week a water main broke in the mechanical room of Northeast Hall on the campus of Western Kentucky U. The burst pipe led to a flood, and that in turn damaged various electrical equipment that caused Northeast, Southwest and Bates-Runner residence halls to lose power.

There was no warning prior to the breakage, of course, and those living in the affected dorms had to be relocated while the university fixed the problem with a replacement transformer—which of course was not an immediate fix.

“We were essentially evicted from the dorm which we paid quite a bit of money to live in,” noted Tyler Scaff, a junior at the school. He said that calling the problem a “minor inconvenience” was an understatement.

Thankfully, the issue occurred before classes resumed. But imagine what might have happened if power went out during finals, potentially costing students thesis and crucial deadlines, among other losses.

This is a problem that can affect not just college students, either; it is a cautionary tale for businesses as well. There’s no reason why such power outages cannot happen to businesses, which if anything have even more important digital data to be lost.

As a society, we’ve grown pretty complacent about the security and availability of our digital data, but this is a false sense of security—as those on the Western Kentucky campus during the water leak can attest.

Emergency solutions such as uninterruptible power supplies and backup generators are key technology, if largely unsung because they only matter when it really matters.

A lost thesis can be crippling for a college student, and a lost company database or contract can be even more costly for businesses.

That’s why it is important to think of backup power. You never know when a crisis will strike. But you can ill afford to take the crisis unprepared.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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