Why Every SMB’s Resolutions Should Include Data Archival
The new year is a popular time for small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) to get organized. An important part of this process is figuring out how to use technology to reduce the amount of physical “stuff” in the office, from calendars and sticky notes to cardboard boxes filled with paper files.
Although certain data must be retained for compliance purposes, many SMBs just keep everything as a precaution. Whether that data is stored physically or digitally, adding storage space on a regular basis can get expensive as the amount of data being produced continues to skyrocket. SMBs need to determine which data serves a legal purpose or has strategic value, and treat that data as a business asset that is properly stored and protected.
Because primary storage capacity isn’t unlimited, developing a sound data archival strategy is essential. Data archival is the process of identifying and moving data that is no longer actively used from primary storage to secondary storage for long-term retention. Data archival is sometimes confused with data backup, which is the process of copying data to a separate storage system so the data can be restored in case of equipment failure or disaster.
Data archival brings valuable business benefits that extend far beyond reducing clutter and becoming more organized. Because secondary storage costs less than primary storage, data archival reduces storage costs. By moving data to secondary storage, organizations eliminate the need to repeatedly back up data that hasn’t changed, allowing active data to be backed up more frequently. Data archived to meet regulatory compliance requirements will be well-protected against tampering and remain accessible. Data archival also offers strategic business value because it enables organizations to store large volumes of data for analysis. This data can provide valuable customer and operational insights that can be used to create competitive advantages.
Although the concept of data archival may seem simple, effectively archiving data is a complex process that requires an understanding of proper archival policies and best practices. The first step in developing an archival strategy is identifying what data should be archived and for what purpose. Again, it may seem simple to archive all data that hasn’t been updated for a certain period of time, but there are a number of factors to consider. For example, the methods for archiving email, database and file data are very different.
Also, what is the lifecycle of various types of data? Can certain data be deleted instead of archived? If data is archived, how long must it be retained? For example, compliance data will most likely need to be retained for a longer period than human resources data. A data archival policy without a deletion policy can become unnecessarily costly in terms of wasted storage space and time spent searching through extra data.
Another factor to consider is accessibility. In order to maintain the integrity of archived data, organizations must establish clear guidelines that explain who may access various types of archived data and for what purpose. Once the types of data to be archived, the lifecycle of various forms of data, and accessibility policies have been identified, organizations should evaluate storage media and software based upon cost, control, performance and other factors. Cloud-based storage for data archival is quickly becoming a popular choice of SMBs.
ICG makes it possible for SMBs to realize the benefits of effective data archival while minimizing the need to purchase and maintain additional hardware as storage demands grow. Let us help you design and implement an archival plan and choose the solutions that make the most sense for your organization.