Data archiving (and data retention) is an integral part of the data life cycle. To free up your primary cloud storage space for new data, the need will arise sporadically to archive older, stagnant data. Because the primary storage area of a storage system facilitates online accessibility and retrieval of data, it requires sufficient IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) for this. And because of its speed, it’s used as the primary location for backups and restores – but this becomes costly when also used to store archived data.
The Difference Between Data Archives and Data Backups
There is a big difference between data backups and data archives, and the two are often confused. Data backups are used to ensure that data is stored either locally or at an offsite location, and are easily accessible in case something happens to the original data. Recovery time is of utmost importance and its value hinges on it.
Data archiving is used to reduce primary storage consumption and the costs related to it. Data that is no longer in use but not yet obsolete can be moved off primary storage space. As an alternative, cloud-based archives achieve both goals because of cloud storage being so cost effective. Archived data doesn’t need the same speed of recovery as with data backups (e.g. critical recovery time objectives)
Also note that it might be necessary to draw up a data-retention policy that is in compliance with your country’s data retention laws.
The Benefits of Data Retention
- Allowing stagnant data to consume primary storage space is not sustainable. Archiving to a secure data storage facility will ensure that data is available when you need it, whilst at the same time minimising overheads.
- By archiving stagnant data, the backup data set also becomes smaller, optimising backup times and cost of primary storage.
- Using archiving as standard practice could add to a company’s data retention policy, optimising storage systems and storage practices.
Archiving Best Practices
- Multiple copies. It is important to have more than one backup of online data archives. Archiving to a remote location, like the cloud, is beneficial, mirroring to an additional server is advisable. Back up your archives, just because the data is stagnant does not necessarily mean it is obsolete.
- Data integrity. Check the integrity of the archived data regularly. Because the data is stagnant and not in use, it can be easy to forget about it. Thus, the archived data could become corrupted and this could go unnoticed for months without regular integrity checks.
- Data compliance. Make sure that all archived data is in compliance with data-retention policies. Get it right from the start. Starting out with a “best practice” is easier than correcting poor practice later on.
- Understand the data. Have knowledge and insight into your data. This will help determine which data should be easily accessible, and which data can be archived.
- Provider standards. Choose the right cloud backup and data-retention provider. Walking the path of online data archiving and backup with an experienced service provider could save you from unrecoverable data loss.