How does lost data affect your business?

As a surveyor, data is crucial to your business. Without it, you would have nothing to turn around to your clients or to reference on future jobs. It is one of the most valuable things you are in possession of. So what happens when you lose it? More importantly, how do you protect your data and prevent its loss?

A total of 59 respondents answered these questions, and others. Of those 59, 15 or 25 percent reported having never lost data before. A more expected 66 percent (39) responded that they lost data less than 5 times a year. Fortunately only 8 percent lost data more than 5 times and no one admitted to losing it too many times to count. The most common reason for the loss was reported as being operator error (34 percent), followed by data collector failure of some sort (24 percent), battery failure (5 percent) and computer failure with 3 percent. Other reasons ranged from static to flash card error to power shortcuts to a lost field book.

Although a majority reported having lost data in the past, only 17 percent of respondents reported having upgraded their equipment because of frequent losses. Most had not and only 5 percent were looking into this option.

Most respondents (64 percent) said that they had lost less than $1,000 in a year due to lost data. About 15 percent (9) said that they lost between $1,001 and $5,000 and luckily, only 4 people said they lost over $5,000. Most respondents (49 or 83 percent) also have not had to pay to have data extracted from their equipment. Another 8 percent have and 7 percent did not answer the question.

How do you usually back up your data? The responses ranged, with the most common ways to back up data being CD and another hard drive, both tied with 34 percent. Zip drives were used by only 3 percent of respondents while 24 percent used tape backup systems. One person actually said that they never back up their data. Another protection for data is to keep copies in multiple locations. Eighty-one (81 percent) responded that they did keep data in multiple locations. Of that 81 percent, 52 percent kept records at home, 73 percent kept records at the office and 19 percent said they kept records in other places such as data storage websites, hard copies and safe deposit boxes. (These numbers did not add up to 100 because respondents were allowed to check as many as applied.)

Most respondents kept hard copies of their data as well as digital copies, or 73 percent. Twenty-seven (27) percent said that they did not.

Of the 59 respondents, 46 were land surveyors, 3 were engineers, 7 were both and 3 were neither.