Why archiving using backups is a bad idea

There is a worldwide epidemic of rapid data growth that’s affecting datacenters and server rooms all over the world. And if your company hasn’t been hit yet, you can rest assured that your turn is coming very soon.

As worldwide online bandwidth, processing capability, and the number of internet-enabled devices continues to grow on an exponential curve, all of these factors combine to grow the amount of corporate data that we’re producing at an even faster rate.

The speed at which corporate data is piling up is significantly faster than the speed at which storage costs are falling. And to make things worse, regulations are making it harder to delete unwanted business data.
This presents a number of unique problems when it comes to data protection:

  • Many companies have reported data storage growth rates of 200% per year or more. And most of this data consists of junk files or low-value clutter which must still be retained for compliance reasons.
  • Although duplicate files may appear very similar, they often contain unique meta data which must be preserved for compliance reasons. Because of this, you can’t simply delete duplicate files from your backups or storage in order to save space.
  • Since most stored data is unstructured, exponential data growth will also create an exponential growth in the risks and costs associated with electronic discovery.
  • Because of the rapid pace at which technology changes, you must keep legacy technology and settings into account when backing up, storing or retrieving data. You may have to reinstall an entire server from 5 years ago, just to find a single document. This can cause some serious headaches when it comes to ediscovery.
  • Some people think they can get around exponential storage growth by transferring low-value data onto cheaper secondary storage. However, this is only a short-term solution since this secondary storage is also growing exponentially.

Although backup is excellent for disaster recovery, it’s poorly suited for archiving, search and retention of large and fast-growing data volumes.

Here are just a few of the ways that data archiving can help you overcome the challenges of exponential data growth:

  • Eliminate duplicate data, while retaining the meta data that was associated with each original file.
  • Save storage space through advanced compression and deduplication technologies.
  • Take unstructured data, and efficiently structure it so that files can be retrieved or searched very quickly.
  • Set a policy that will take low-value data off of production servers and move it onto lower-cost storage in order to maintain better server performance.
  • Minimize backup windows by reducing the amount of data which must be copied in each backup session.

Every tool has its purpose, and every purpose has its tool. Just like how a butter knife makes a poor screw driver, a data backup service is poorly suited as a substitute for a proper archiving solution.

Archiving complements backup really well, and can help you create a cost-effective and streamlined data protection and retention strategy. If your company is finding that its backups are too expensive or time-consuming, or that data storage is simply growing out of control, you may want to consider adding archiving to your arsenal of data management tools.

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Steven Rodin is CEO of Storagepipe. The company offers a wide array of backup systems, featuring “incremental forever” technology. Based out of Canada, they’ve been in business since 2001 and their solutions portfolio includes services such as e-mail archiving, ediscovery, online backup and high-availability services.