News/Trends, Tech/Engineering

Your CEO’s Laptop is Lost. Now What?

Seyi Verma

Losing a laptop can be a nerve-racking experience for anybody – and, alas, it’s becoming a more commonplace occurrence. When top executives are impacted by productivity loss, IT departments have to scurry.

This scenario illustrates the tasks any sysadmin should expect to take on in that moment of stress. To minimize downtime, IT staff have to replace both the device and its crucial documents and settings. Plus, concerns over data breach of confidential information are a real risk.

It’s Sunday morning. Your CEO just arrived in New York City, with a meeting planned for the next day. When he checks into his hotel, he realizes that he can’t find his laptop.

Did he leave it at his last destination? He is not quite sure.

The CEO shuffles through his luggage frantically. But at some point he has to think about his meeting the next day, which relies on information he had stored on that laptop: data, files, email messages with logistics (what was the address of that office again?). What can he do to make the meeting a success despite the queasy feeling in his stomach?

Whatever his answer: He is going to call the IT admin. Which is you.

So much for your relaxing Sunday, huh? You are on the couch watching your favorite NFL team about to win the game (if only they scored a field goal in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter) when the panicked phone call comes in. Thanks to caller ID, you know it is the CEO calling; you have no choice but to take the call, or be fated to look back on the incident as a career-limiting move.

No matter what process you use currently for backing up laptops and other endpoint devices – assuming you have something in place – there are several steps that both the sysadmin and her CEO need to go through to get him up-and-running again. (And a Thank-You Attagirl to express, “I appreciate that you answered the phone during the football game” wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)

  • Address the immediate problem (tomorrow’s meeting)
  • Restore the applications and their data
  • Get the system configured the way the user prefers, including logins, application settings, and system settings
  • Do what you can to protect the data that had been stored on the user’s device

We like to think that you’ll choose Druva InSync to expedite this recovery process (and to make your own job easier), but even if you choose another option, this is the best way to go about it – at least, if you have a hope of watching the end of the football game.

The first step for any self-respecting sysadmin (who wants to keep her job) is to suggest to the CEO that he go to the nearest consumer electronics store to buy a new laptop. Then you help him restore the few files and data that he absolutely requires to be successful for his meeting the next day. Take care of the most immediate problem, and you’ll be a hero instantaneously. If the meeting is a success, the CEO is happy, and you get a high-five from your manager on Monday morning.

Wait to restore all the data at a more convenient time (such as once he returns to the office). A happy ending!

Except the job isn’t really done.

The CEO will now spend hours configuring his laptop, because every user likes his laptop in a particular way. All the computer settings and the application settings were lost along with the hardware. Now he has to configure the new system to his liking. Ordinarily that takes a few hours, maybe a few days.

What about all the confidential data that was lost once the laptop went missing? That information can fall into the wrong hands. So in the best of situations you should be able to trace the laptop; you need to know exactly where it is; you need to know what data is stored on that laptop, and how much of it is corporate data. You need the ability to wipe off that corporate information and decommission that device.

Ideally, you think through this recovery process before you need to implement it. That’s not paranoia; it’s inevitability. The workforce is now more mobile than ever. In fact, 38% of the workforce is now mobile. And because companies are now embracing BYOD policies, people bring more personal devices into the workplace.

Statistics show that individuals have an average of 3.3 devices, which usually includes a tablet or a smartphone in addition to a laptop. Research shows that by 2017, 87% of business devices will be tablets and smartphones, what we call endpoints. Eventually it will not be a laptop that the CEO loses, but rather a smartphone or a tablet, so companies need to be prepared for that as well.

Nor is your CEO the only person to worry about the data left on the device. The latest research shows that 28% of company information now reside on these mobile devices. It could be financial information, market data, or even employee information.

Okay… here comes the sales pitch. But I’ll try to be gentle about it, because we designed Druva inSync to make every goal I just described easy to manage for both IT and the users whom they support. And in some cases inSync makes the process possible, since several of the items above – such as knowing where the missing mobile device is – aren’t generally available with systems you build in-house or with file share and sync tools. With over 3,000 enterprise customers using inSync, we’re more than familiar with the features that businesses need to protect their assets. So if you see a one-to-one relationship between the “restore the CEO’s computer (and temper)” steps and what inSync provides, it is not coincidence.

It all starts with a seamless backup and restore solution, and by seamless I mean the data is actually backed up without user intervention or distraction. With some tools, the backup solution consumes a lot of resources and bogs down the end user’s computer. So the user clicks “pause” on the backup, just to get work done… you know the end result of that decision.

Any backup worth its salt captures everything the user needs – and enables him to restore from anywhere, even a hotel room with poky Internet access (for which they sometimes charge $25 – what’s up with that?!). If the backup includes all the persona settings, the user is back in the game immediately and doesn’t have to repeat the customization process.

With inSync, we securely back up confidential data, which can easily be restored by the sysadmin, or by the end user directly. Instead of calling the IT admin, the CEO could restore all his information by himself. Insync provides access to controls or data loss prevention to track and decommission the device as well. So if the device is lost, you can track it (why yes, it was left in the last hotel). The IT admin can decommission the device remotely, which can be auto initiated as well.

I won’t belabor the point; there’s no need to give you a bulleted feature list. You can learn about the details of inSync elsewhere on our site, and naturally I hope you will. Three resources that might help with that pursuit are: