Doctor Who—television’s great traveler through space and time—might be the ultimate backup specialist. Not only does he go on adventures with his companions in the TARDIS, he can recover from just about any disaster simply by regenerating himself. While each incarnation of the Doctor is slightly—or vastly—different from the last, each brings something new to the table. That’s what has made the series so great for the last half century.
The Doctor is also relevant to a discussion of backup and recovery. Each incarnation of the Doctor provides a different reason for why backup and recovery is so important in business. Here is what each regeneration of the Doctor can teach your company about backup and recovery.
The First Doctor—Hard Drive Failure
One of the first script editors on the series described the Doctor as “frail-looking but wiry and tough as an old turkey.”1 Doctor Who’s first fans learned that the Doctor is not just a fraillooking old man, but a powerful Time Lord. The second twist dawned on viewers more slowly. It turned out that the powerful Lord of Time was also a frail old man. Eventually, his body gave out after some rough handling by the Cybermen.
Just like the Doctor’s first body, all hard drives eventually fail. Proper care and maintenance can extend their productive lives, but the more you use a hard drive, the sooner it’s going to fail. Businesses today can’t afford to treat a hard drive gently, but the loss of certain data can be catastrophic.
What would you do? One thing you can’t do is regenerate. Only the Doctor can do that. The next-best thing is a series of secure backups. You need a team—the Doctor would call them “companions”—that you can count on to support all of your systems and software when they suddenly break down.
The Second Doctor—Viruses
After the first Doctor’s surprising demise, fans found that the Doctor was contained in a new body. This new Doctor was short, dark, mercurial and clever, but his most memorable trait was that he was prepared for anything. He was always able to stay one step ahead of his enemies.
Staying one step ahead of your network’s enemies takes constant vigilance. Professional networks must be hardened to withstand a nearly continual assault from viruses, Trojan horses, browser hijackers, malware, Internet worms, and DDoS attacks, just to name a few. In order to do that effectively, you must have backups ready to go in case something goes wrong.
Like the second Doctor, backing up your data keeps you ahead of your network’s enemies. Even if your network is compromised, you will always have an uncorrupted version of your data to keep your business running smoothly.
The Third Doctor—Computer Crashes
Introduced during the heyday of James Bond, the Doctor’s third incarnation would have been right at home with a “double 0” designation. Beneath his curly mop of silver hair, this Doctor depended on his gadgets and machines like Bessie, his tricked-out racing roadster. In fact, Bessie became his main mode of transportation after the TARDIS stopped working, stranding the Doctor on Earth.
Just like the TARDIS, computers can crash without warning. A simple hard drive crash can bring operations to a standstill and damage your company’s reputation. Desktop computer crashes and the dreaded “blue screen of death” never happen at a good time. Backing up your data consistently can reduce the likelihood that your business will be stranded like the third Doctor.
The Fourth Doctor—Accidental Deletion
His was the face of the Doctor for seven seasons—far longer than any other Doctor thus far. He was 6 feet, 3 inches of quirk mixed with a bit of mania. No one knew what he was going to do next, himself least of all. When he accidentally imprinted his mind on a computer, the poor machine ended up with schizophrenia.
Like the Fourth Doctor, people can be unpredictable when they interact with computers. A slip on the keyboard or one too many mouse clicks can accidentally delete critical files. And in cases involving disgruntled workers, the deletions may not be accidental at all. Life doesn’t have an undo button. How confident are you that nothing could possibly go wrong when people are involved? Some things are gone forever, unless you make sure that your company’s data is backed up safely and securely.
The Fifth Doctor—Natural Disasters
The fourth Doctor was a hard act to follow, so the fifth was the total opposite. He was hesitant, vulnerable and buffeted by the winds of the Last Great Time War. In the end, he succumbed to poisoning, giving away the only antidote to save his companion.
We are all more vulnerable than we imagine, especially during a natural disaster. Storms, earthquakes, brownouts, floods, landslides, fires—we see disasters on the news just about every day. Unfortunately, few companies make adequate arrangements for disaster recovery and business continuity. By one estimate, nearly a third of American businesses have no recovery plan at all.2
On those rare occasions when you do have a bit of warning, you may feel conflicted about whether or not to ignore it. The real question you should be asking is, “How long can I stay in business if my operations are shut down?” Find the answer to this question as soon as you can with a comprehensive business analysis, a geo-failover plan, and disaster recovery support. But the foundation of any recovery plan is the existence of reliable backups. Without backing up your data, your company is as vulnerable as if it were facing an army of Daleks.
The Sixth Doctor—Lost Revenue
This Doctor was arrogant, selfish—and dressed like a motel sofa. His superiority complex sometimes got the better of him, but he proved that he was better than his enemies—and the enemies of mankind—time after time.
Like the Sixth Doctor, sometimes you have to take care of yourself first. The fact is that lost data can put your company in a financial sinkhole quickly. The cost of lost revenue due to downtime can often be higher than the cost of restoring the system to full operations. In fact, 43 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster, and another 29 percent close within two years, according to industry analysts.3
It’s important to devote company resources to backing up crucial data. You never know when, like the sixth Doctor you’ll be summoned to the High Council of Time Lords—or at least your board of directors—and asked why revenue dropped so steeply after a data loss. Put first things first, and stick to the principles of a responsible business manager.
The Seventh Doctor—Compliance
In his seventh incarnation, the Doctor became a game master, keeping his cards very close to his chest while putting on an outward show of buffoonery. In the end, he played one too many games. After he was shot, he didn’t regenerate. He was carted off to the morgue to play possum for a long time. The long-running TV series Doctor Who was canceled.
Game masters like the seventh Doctor can lose everything in the world of business. Regulations and industry standards increasingly require backups and recovery plans for sensitive data,4 and heaven help the company that doesn’t comply. You’ve got to know the rules inside and out. Companies often end up transgressing rules that they didn’t even know about and paying big fines that could have been avoided.
The first step toward getting in compliance is backing up your data. While you may need a lawyer to explain the legalese, you must first ensure your data is safe. Otherwise, it may wind up like the seventh Doctor—canceled.
The Eighth Doctor—Theft
With the demise of the seventh Doctor, the venerable program disappeared from broadcast TV for 16 years. Yet the Doctor lived on, lurking at the edges of popular culture through novels and radio plays. This eighth regeneration was a darker, unpredictable Doctor, appearing only once in a TV movie. Understandably, he became more and more paranoid—especially after somebody stole his second heart.
Just like this Doctor, many fans felt that someone had stolen their heart away when the show was canceled. Losing data to theft can feel like that. It can cripple a business or snowball into a public relations disaster, as recently shown by thefts of data from Target and other companies.
An additional unseen cost is the hurt and suspicion—not to mention legal costs—following the theft. Make sure you are minimizing your exposure to costs and legal entanglements by securing unified data protection. If the unthinkable does happen, your backed up data will keep your business operating smoothly while you go after the perpetrators against your company and your customers.
The Ninth Doctor—Physical Computer Damage
In 2005, the Doctor returned from obscurity with a big-name actor and a hard-edge look that made him more popular than ever before. This Doctor’s straightforward glare had an edge of real danger as he reinterpreted the character for the 21st century. Previous Doctors were clever, but this Doctor was physically threatening in a brand new way.
Physical threats to your hardware are just as dangerous as viruses. Physical computer damage can happen in an instant, even from mere carelessness. Dust, a few crumbs, a tiny insect, even slippery fingers can put your business out of commission. With all the attention focused on software, security firewalls and updates, it’s easy to forget how much damage a misplaced soda can do.
Make sure you have backups off site because you can’t afford to keep all of your eggs in one geographical basket. Lapses of attention can be just as catastrophic as lack of attention.
The Tenth Doctor—Power Outages
This Doctor didn’t get much respect when he first appeared. There was talk that the lights had gone off for good on this venerable franchise after the Ninth Doctor moved on. Then the Tenth Doctor switched on the charm. An essential aspect to his popularity—and meme-ability—was that he hid his seriousness in clever one-liners.Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Special proved that this Doctor dynamo was still fully charged, long after his power was shut off.
In one second, all your work may be lost when the electricity goes out. How much was saved? You won’t know until the power comes back on. Power outages can occur at any time, even if you own the building. As businesses have demanded more servers to handle their customers, the need for electricity has grown exponentially. And power isn’t as easy to switch on as the tenth Doctor’s smile.
The larger your company, the more customers will be affected by an outage. In a recent disaster recovery survey, many organizations did not even know which of their applications were mission critical for recovery after an outage. Make sure you’re protected from power outages with reliable backups of your company’s essential data.
The Eleventh Doctor—Improved Customer Service
Number eleven was the youngest and most social Doctor fans have yet seen. At last, we learned what this mysterious character is a doctor of—and it’s cheese-making. You could also add fan-making to this Doctor’s list of qualifications. From 2010 to 2013, this floppy-haired Doctor turned a 50-year-old franchise into a Twitter-ruling weekly event with viral content and memes at his fingertips.
A social Doctor was unexpected but it makes sense for a social media world. Your customers can be your biggest advocates, promoting your brand and bringing in countless referrals of customers just like them. Thanks to modern technology, every customer now expects to be remembered. Even if you have hundreds of thousands of customers, each one wants to talk to a customer service agent who has full access to his/her files, transactions and personal history with the company.
Customer relationship management can’t begin without ample customer data, and that depends on reliable backups. Backups make sure that all of the data will always be available when the customer needs it. Your company’s reputation is a delicate thing, and a few vocal detractors can do substantial damage in the age of social networking.
The Twelfth Doctor—Unknown Problems
Who is the Doctor now? A Scottish glower with a natty outfit is all we know so far. It turns out that there’s a great deal that we have only begun to discover about the greater Whovian universe.
The latest Doctor remains a big unknown, which is great for science fiction but bad for business facts. The unknown is the number-one ulcer generator for data security specialists. The number of unknown problems your network could encounter is as infinite as the night sky. Your company must be prepared.
Preparation means at least two backups, a geo-failover plan and clear channels of communication for handling the next unknown issue. That’s what it takes to win in the complex, interconnected and delicate global marketplace.
Who Are You?
Which of these Doctors best describes your business? When critical data is lost, there’s no turning back time. You are going to need a companion at your side with a virtual sonic screwdriver to bring all your systems back online and restore order to the universe. There is no time to lose. Punch your TARDIS’ coordinates for Unitrends. We’ll help you protect your data from everything from DDoS attacks to Daleks. Contact Unitrends today to learn more about the importance of backup and recovery.
Are you Backing up with Doctor Who?
1“Doctor Who 50th anniversary: A history of Time Lords from William Hartnell to Matt Smith.” London Daily Express Online, published November 17, 2013, accessed August 4, 2014, http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/ tv-radio/443430/Doctor-Who-50th-anniversary-A-history-of-Time-Lords-from-William-Hartnell-to-Matt-Smith.
2“Better Prepared Organizations Implement More Detailed DR Plans.” Unitrends blog, published March 3, 2014, accessed August 4, 2014, http://blog.unitrends.com/better-prepared-organizations-implement-more-detailed-dr-plans.
3Minard, Derik. “Small Business Continuity Planning Integrated with Fire Department Pre-Plans.” Accessed August 19, 2014, http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo47103.pdf.
4“Unitrends Sales Presentation.” Accessed August 19, 2014, http://www.slideshare.net/lincolng/unitrends-sales-presentation-2010?qid=c67b6636-9c2a-455a-b77d-9225c26a0797&v=qf1&b=&from_search=1.