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Combat File Volatility

October 30, 2018

Recently ZDNet reported that Microsoft’s long-awaited feature update introduced a bug which deleted user files in a way not easily recoverable. An underappreciated problem with modern computer systems is despite the layers of error detection, they remain unable to tell the user when files (or folders full of files) simply disappear. The cause can be a bug in the operating system, as in this latest Microsoft problem, or it can be a bug or unexpected behavior of any application program that has access to the folders in question. It could even be a case of a user error, which happens in about 30% of data loss cases.

One of the best ways to combat the different unexpected file volatility issues is to use an active archive storage solution. This solution actively maintains a secure inventory of your files from the time of creation of the file and periodically checks to ensure that all the files you are supposed to have are still present. Even better is a system that reports any missing or corrupted files and automatically replaces them with validated backup copies.

Nexsan Assureon does exactly this – it monitors all servers and file systems you specify, and makes a copy of any newly created files. Information about the file, called metadata, is assembled including the file name, timestamp, a cryptographic fingerprint, and the administrator defined retention rules. The file is issued a globally-unique consecutive serial number, and then stored in two separate Assureon nodes. Best practice is to position these two Assureon nodes in different geographic locations, taking advantage of the high integrity replication technology embedded in the product. The metadata is added to a cryptographically chained list, very similar to how Blockchain works. Over time, Assureon audits the serial number sequence to validate that every file is present and the contents still match the stored cryptographic fingerprint. If a file is missing or corrupted, the administrator (and Nexsan) are notified of the problem and it automatically self-heals using the other validated copy.

You can avoid the silent loss of your critical business assets due to file system volatility by implementing an Assureon active archive solution to provide short and long term protection against improper loss or corruption of data. As a bonus, Assureon also helps protect you against catastrophic data loss due to Ransomware and Safeguards your company in the face of a natural disaster. Read How to Protect from Ransomware with Assureon.

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