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Data Archiving: Best Practices and Benefits for Your Business

This BBC article looks at the extreme end of data archive and examines what happens to old data stored to be seen by future generations.

‘Insane’ amounts of data spurs new storage tech – BBC News

I have always wondered about this. Even on a personal level, my family takes pictures and hopefully captures all those important moments together.

But how do we ensure that they get passed on to future generations? The box of old photos and albums my parents’ generation left behind is a thing of the past.

Understanding why archiving data may be beneficial to your business

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Fortunately, for most companies, the periods for which documents must be held are usually dictated by compliance requirements.

Companies and small businesses have similar hoards of documents in digital format, which eventually create usability issues, create inefficiency and even slow the whole system down.

Systems constantly demand more storage space, adding to costs and can even increase organisations’ security burden.

Fortunately, we have the tools and know-how to help your business create a process and provide the technologies for backup and archiving data when it is no longer current.

Contact us to talk about our cloud data archiving solution.

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Understanding the benefits of data archiving tools, coupled with policies for ageing, provides vital insight into your data lifecycle, from live data to archiving and disposing of old data that is no longer required.

Recent experience with our customers has shown that these problems aren’t insuperable, and solving them can deliver five business benefits: improved working efficiency, more reliable backups, improved security, less time spent upgrading infrastructure and cost savings.

Contact us for our guide to data archiving and sensible policies for responsible businesses.

Understanding Data Archiving.

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Data Archiving Definition

  • Data archiving identifies no longer active data and moves it out of production into long-term storage systems.
  • Ideally, archival data is stored off-site but can be easily accessed and returned to the live environment on demand. This will allow search and retrieval as required with minimal delay and effort.
  • Data archiving strategies optimize how necessary resources perform in the active system, allowing users to quickly access data archive storage devices or data archiving plans for easy retrieval and more cost-effective information storage.

Developing Data Archiving Strategies

Your business data lifecycle management strategy will typically encompass several stages, from creating and actively using data to its eventual archiving and deletion.

Here’s a breakdown of these stages:

Live and Being Edited:

Generation: Data is created or captured through various means, such as transactions, user interactions, or data entry.

Collection: Relevant data is identified and collected for use.

Processing: The collected data is processed, organized, and prepared for analysis.

Live but Used for Reference:

Storage: Data is stored in databases, file servers, or cloud services such as SharePoint to be accessed as needed.

Management: Data is managed to ensure its quality, accessibility, and security.

Not Required but Need to Be Kept for Compliance:

Archiving: Data no longer actively used but needs to be retained for compliance reasons is archived. This data is still accessible if required for legal, audit or warranty purposes.

Our secure data archiving enables the long-term storage of inactive data with easy retrieval should the data be required again. archiving strategy to optimise how necessary resources

End of Life Outside of Compliance and Should Be Deleted:

Destruction: When data is no longer needed for business operations or compliance, it is securely destroyed or deleted to protect sensitive information and manage storage costs.

These stages ensure that data is handled responsibly throughout its lifecycle, from initial creation to final deletion, in compliance with business needs and regulatory requirements.

While these stages are common, the specific processes and policies may vary depending on the organization and the data type involved.

Identifying Data to Archive

  • Determine if you store data that is no longer frequently accessed but must be retained for compliance or business purposes.
  • Consider the data’s importance, frequency of access, and storage costs.
  • Develop a data archiving strategy that aligns with your organization’s data retention policies and regulatory requirements.
  • Understanding when and how to remove and securely delete data is as important as having a policy to decide on policy archiving data.

Benefits of Data Archiving

Meeting Compliance Requirements

  • Data archiving helps organizations meet compliance requirements by storing data long-term and making it easily accessible for audits and legal requests.
  • Data archiving benefits include ensuring production systems use fewer resources, run more efficiently, and reduce storage costs overall.
  • Data archiving software enables centralized ediscovery, improves data protection, and preserves institutional knowledge.

Data backup vs Archiving.

Understanding the Difference between backup data & data archive.

  • Data archiving is not the same as data backup, although both are used to store data outside of production.
  • Data backups safeguard data currently in use, allowing restoration from a single point in time.
  • Backup data can be used to restore a complete machine and all of its applications or just files and folders, and it should be able to recover to a point in time.
  • Data archiving services help companies store data that is not currently being used, allowing retrieval across a period of time while maintaining data integrity.
  • Data archiving strategy optimizes how necessary resources are reserved for live data and when users should move data to archive data storage systems.

Selecting a Data Archiving Solution

Key Features to Look for

  • Look for a data archiving solution that meets your organization’s needs and regulatory requirements.
  • Consider the solution’s scalability, security, and search capabilities.
  • Ensure the solution can integrate with your existing infrastructure and provide easy access to your long-term retention and storage archive.

Speak to one of our experts or contact us for a copy of our archive data storage solutions guide.

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Implementing a Data Archiving Solution

Centralizing Ediscovery

  • Implement a data archiving solution that enables centralized ediscovery and improves data security.
  • Ensure the solution provides easy access to data archives and supports your organization’s data retention policies.

Optimizing Data Storage

Reducing Storage Load and Costs

  • Data archiving helps reduce storage load and costs by offloading infrequently accessed data from production systems.
  • Consider using cloud storage or other cost-effective storage options for data archives.

Ensuring Business Continuity

Improving Disaster Recovery

  • Data archiving is key in enhancing disaster recovery strategies by providing a secure and accessible repository of archived data.
  • Ensure the data archiving solution provides fast and reliable data recovery during a disaster.

Security sensitivity and data retention.

Microsoft SharePoint offers a range of features to effectively manage security sensitivity and data retention. SharePoint is a management system the information is stored and can be labelled to aid security, retention, and search.

Security sensitivity and data retention are key aspects of data governance, particularly when dealing with sensitive information. Here’s a summary of what you need to know:

Retention Policies & Labels: Microsoft provides retention policies and labels to help organizations retain or delete content based on compliance requirements.

Retention settings can prevent permanent deletion, ensure content is available for eDiscovery, or archive data that isn’t currently required.

Data Lifecycle Management: It’s important to manage data’s lifecycle effectively. This includes complying with regulations that require retaining content for a minimum period, deleting old content that’s no longer required, and ensuring users work with current and relevant content.

Protection of Sensitive Information: Microsoft’s Information Protection solutions aim to protect sensitive data across its entire lifecycle, whether on devices, apps, cloud services, or on-premises. This includes discovering, classifying, labelling, protecting, and monitoring sensitive information.

Data Retention Best Practices: Organizations must prioritize securely retaining data for legal requirements and ensure it is protected from unauthorized access and security threats.

Data retention policies should align with privacy and data protection laws to keep information safe and available for its intended use.

We can provide more information on creating a retention policy or managing sensitive data if you need further assistance.

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Preserving Institutional Knowledge

Managing Company Knowledge

  • One key benefit of data archiving solutions is that they help preserve institutional knowledge by storing historical data and making it easily accessible.
  • Ensure the data archiving system automates the archive process, provides a searchable repository for data archives, and supports knowledge management initiatives.

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Choosing the Right Storage Option

Online vs. Offline Data Storage

  • Consider the benefits of online vs. offline data storage options for archived data.
  • Online data storage provides fast and easy access to archived data, while offline data storage offers a more cost-effective option for infrequently accessed data.
  • The key benefit of offline locations for storing mission-critical information is that the backup or archive system protects its integrity, providing secure locations for storing data that rely upon security sensitivity retention.

Government regulations, the law and corporate policy

In recent years, the trends in government regulations have been towards stronger regulation as digital services and Internet giants such as Apple, Google, etc., have come under increasing scrutiny.

Data regulation and retention laws are crucial for businesses to ensure their ability to meet compliance and protect personal information.

In the UK, the UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act set out specific requirements for data retention. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Storage Limitation Principle: Personal data should not be kept longer than necessary for the purposes for which it is processed.
  • Businesses need to justify the retention period and have a policy setting standard retention periods wherever possible.
  • Retention Policy: It’s important to have a policy with standard retention periods that align with documentation obligations and to review the information held regularly.
  • Legal Requirements for Document Retention: Different documents have different retention requirements. For example, company contracts should be retained for 6 years due to the Limitation Act 1980, while accounting records must be kept ‘adequate’ as per Section 386 of the Companies Act 20062.
  • Data Retention Guidance: Practical guides are available to help organizations meet storage limitation obligations under data protection legislation.

For Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets out similar principles, emphasizing data minimization and limiting data retention to what is strictly necessary.

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Your business wants the best performance within applicable regulations and the law.

Businesses should consult legal experts or refer to detailed guides and resources to ensure they fully comply with these regulations.

If you need more detailed information or assistance with creating a retention policy, our regular blogs and services help companies stay abreast of best practices, regulations, and the law.