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Spring Cleaning: Paring Down Your Data Archives

by on April 5, 2012

Spring has finally sprung in most parts of the country. While the warmer weather is always a welcome sight, it’s probably time for many of us to quit procrastinating and dive into some projects we’ve been postponing throughout the winter. Whether or not you want to tidy up the garage over the weekend is up to you, but during business hours it might be a good idea to direct your spring cleaning focus toward your data archives.

Sorting trash from treasure

Just as old T-shirts that you haven’t worn since high school can take up space in your closet, terabytes of data that you haven’t accessed in years can take a toll on your storage infrastructure. Many large companies have boxes and boxes of old tapes that have been collecting dust for decades. Rather than throwing anything out, a number of media management professionals have chosen to adopt an ultra-conservative retention strategy and keep throwing data on top of the pile.

But if you’ve watched any reality TV lately, you know that hoarding isn’t exactly the most attractive character trait.

To keep data archives lean and efficient, now might be the best time to start cutting dead weight. If you’ve diligently indexed all information over the years, it shouldn’t take long to understand what needs to be kept and what can go out with the trash. If you haven’t, it’s time to take a closer look at your collection and any relevant compliance requirements to make sure client healthcare data, for example, doesn’t find its way into the recycling bin.

Productive destruction

Once you have identified which records are expendable or obsolete, the consolidation process can finally begin. But considering the corporate value and potential sensitivity of what’s contained on most tape drives, dumping boxes in a nearby dumpster doesn’t exactly suffice. While it is rare, more than a few companies have fallen victim to costly data breaches as a result of careless disposal practices.

To eliminate this risk, you must fulfill your oath to manage and protect information throughout its life cycle. This means taking every precaution to ensure your data doesn’t come back from the dead. Whether by encrypting, overwriting or physically destroying redundant storage media, you must eliminate any possibility that data can be accessed by unauthorized viewers once it leaves your archives.

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