Storing production data on end user workstations?

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As I encounter cases where an employee’s workstation is, in fact, on the critical path for a critical business process, the first question I usually ask is:

Why?

Warnings go off in my head when I hear about an employee’s workstation in any process’s critical path.

– from IT Disaster Recovery Planning for Dummies

Now let me tell you why I think it’s a bad idea to store production data on end user workstations:

  • Workstation hard drives are not protected from failure by any RAID or mirroring technology. When the hard drive fails, the data is gone. IT servers often have RAID or mirroring, which protects the integrity and availability of the data.
  • Most users don’t back up their workstation hard drives. When the data is gone, it’s gone. IT servers are usually backed up regularly.
  • Most workstations have little or no power protection (plug strips hardly count). When sags, spikes, or brownouts occur, the workstation will take the brunt of this, possibly resulting in a crash or hardware failure. Sure, it’s unlikely, but it DOES happen. IT servers are usually protected by UPS and, sometimes, generators.
  • Users often tinker with workstations, which sometimes results in a disabled state and/or a reboot. This happens a lot less in most IT servers.
  • User workstations, particularly if they are laptops, are stolen far more frequently than IT servers, especially when they are locked up in server rooms.
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