Companies today are often so focused on the secure storage of data that they miss the point about which data is really worth storing. A recent article by a Storage Networking Industry Association member made the point that “stale data backup” afflicts many organisations. It’s a problem that is as much cultural as technological. In this age, storage space seems so massive and cheap, at least on a personal computing space, that there is no need to ever throw any data away again, no matter how useless it is.
One telling statistic advanced by the article is that for many companies, about three-quarters of data files saved to expensive storage media are never again accessed, at least within a six month period following storage. Information like this rekindles the “disk or tape” backup discussion. Business continuity good practice guidelines suggest there should be no objection to storing it to tape, and forgoing instant access in return for the cost-savings, compared to disk storage.
However, even if the psychological wrench of deleting data is more than some people or organisations can bear, there may be other intermediate steps of interest. Strides have been made in recent times concerning hierarchical storage management (HSM), in step with advances in disk storage capacity and access times. With corresponding “data migrator” technologies, data that is categorised as old or “stale” can be backed up once to less expensive media and left there, without sacrificing (much) in terms of speed of data recovery.
Even if this doesn’t immediately help the compulsive hoarder syndrome, it could provide some breathing space. The next step for business continuity good practice guidelines would then be to sort out what is going on in people’s heads, as well as in their IT installations. The complete article by Tony Ashley, SNIA Europe member, can be read at Stale Data Backup.