How to Decide Which Business Data to Archive

The world is headed toward a storage crunch. Are you prepared?

Optimizing data storage is one of the most commonly overlooked opportunities to create savings. As most business owners don’t have the time to keep track of the status of their data, or of the constantly evolving suite of storage options available, it’s easy for costs to creep up. Too often, the situation is allowed to get critical before anything is done—and hasty measures are a surefire way to throw good money after bad.

We’re here to help. This post will take a look at why the data storage challenge is getting out of hand; how to decide what to do with your data; and what kind of solutions are out there to make the task more manageable.

The Doomsday Scenario

Earlier this year, storage technology leader Seagate released their report on what they call The Data Age. According to their projections, in the next eight years world data production will increase tenfold, reaching an unfathomable 163 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025. Much of this will be metadata created by the ever-expanding universe of IoT-enabled devices—and the term ‘universe’ here is no accident. Although researchers have demonstrated that it’s possible to store 1s and 0s on atoms, the thing about exponential growth is that in time it won’t be possible to contain it. Even if we used every atom on Earth for storage, that would only be sustainable for 181 years or so at the present rate.

For today’s businesses, terminal resource scarcity is much nearer. Per a 2016 survey of 500 worldwide businesses, most companies spend about 13% of their IT budget on storage. While the per-bite cost of storing data will inevitably decline, data volumes are increasing much more quickly. It will be difficult for most companies to continue to spend only 13% without a shrewder approach. Indeed, according to the same survey, 68% of respondents believe they’ll soon be unable to meet their storage requirements.

Archiving Best Practices

While archiving is not a cure-all for data bloat, it can no longer be regarded as a luxury. As we’ve discussed, there’s really no way to avoid creating more data. Businesses will now sink or swam based on how efficiently they can store it.

Much of the data your business is required to save is actually seldom accessed, meaning you’re just hemorrhaging money leaving it on your most expensive high-performance storage. That’s where archiving comes in. By compressing the data and moving it to a cheaper secondary storage medium, you’ll bring down overhead significantly.

Archiving properly means having answers to the following:

  • How frequently is your data accessed?
  • How much of your data is redundant?
  • Will I have a means of finding and retrieving this data after it has been archived?
  • Will the archived data be secure?
  • Do any applications rely on this data

Getting the Answers

Lots of the data on your primary storage is infrequently accessed; much of it, in fact, is never accessed at all after it’s created. This makes it a prime candidate for removal to archive storage. But, short of trawling through the properties of each and every file, how can you tell for sure which is which?

Software-based file archiving solutions, like ShareArchiver, simplify the process immensely. They include built-in file analytics that provide users a clearer sense of how their data is being used (or unused, as the case may be). From there, it’s a simple matter to create a policy that automatically sends little used files to the archive once it’s passed a designated interval of inactivity (a month, six months, a year etc.).

These analytics can also identify which files are largely or entirely redundant, and optionally delete the duplicates. This can be a godsend on messy shared servers.

Automation significantly decreases the opportunity cost of archiving data, as it requires much less staff time to execute. Archive storage costs a fraction of high-performance primary storage, but it’s also no longer the remote information gulag it once was. Choose a solution with powerful e-discovery tools and you can easily search all of your storage locations at once. With file stubbing, archived files can be instantly recalled from storage with a double-click.

Archiving for Applications

If your business relies on an application (or the application is your business), you want to be very careful about making sure the app is able to access the data it needs to work properly.

As Forbes notes,

Many application frameworks exist that support active archiving or cold storage. These include log management applications and analytics frameworks like Hadoop. But make absolutely certain that your application falls into this category before archiving data. In contrast, most relational database applications don’t support active archiving and restoration of the data.

You’re better off focusing on unstructured file data, like images, audio and video. Most apps only require this data when you’re accessing it directly, which means it’s safe to move it off of primary storage.

Who makes the ultimate archiving decision?

IT leads may know the data best, but it’s the staff who work with it on a daily basis who rely on it. Involve them in the process. One of the easiest ways to do so is for IT to create varying tiers of file permissions. In this way, access to certain files and functions is limited to those staff who actually need it.

This is why integrated file archiving solutions work best. ShareArchiver works with your existing file architecture, and its functions are baked into the standard file interface. For the most part, its functions are unobtrusive to the point most users won’t notice them as they go about their day-to-day activities.

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