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Can’t Find That File? Better Grab a Data Map

by on March 19, 2012

Whether it’s to dispute a lawsuit or recall a copy of a file that was accidentally lost, businesses need to know where their data is located and how they can get it back. But before sending search parties in pursuit of the information in question, why not give them a guide to take along with them on their journey into the archives?

Building your own data map.

Data mapping is a simple concept with some powerful advantages. Essentially, it forces companies to create a detailed guide of the overall storage environment by explaining where information is located, how it is stored and what you need to do to get it back.

These maps do not need to be overly complex, but the more detail, the better. It’s usually best to start by categorizing data collections in terms of type, size and sensitivity. Different sets will require different levels of protection and different modes of accessibility. Old insurance forms may not be recalled into action very often, for example, but you’d better keep them somewhere safe. On the other hand, the backup copies of last week’s expense reports may deserve a spot closer to the top of the pile.

With a better idea of how the information will be used, it makes it much easier to decide where it will go. Most IT setups contain several different types of storage media, each with its own unique functions and operational advantages. Thus, selecting the right home for your data is half the battle.

Internal advantages.

With a data map in hand, media management professionals will have a better idea of where old information is located and where new data will be going. This can save significant time and money when searching for old files and it can help you optimize storage layouts to ensure you’re making the best use of your space. Instead of wondering if the server room will be overflowing next year, companies can make exact predictions and respond accordingly. Perhaps they can even locate some files that are past their prime and can consequently be consolidated or eliminated to make way for the next wave.

External benefits.

Companies should never forget that the majority of their stakeholders reside outside of office walls. Customers trust merchants with their credit card data, investors count on the fact that quarterly reports are accurate and accessible and regulatory bodies continue to hold companies to an ever-widening array of media management responsibilities. To avoid data loss or breach, respond to eDiscovery requests in a timely manner or produce the files that venture capitalists need to review, having a comprehensive data map can make all the difference.

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