Spring Cleaning! Back-up Tapes Anyone?

Written By

Brian Halpin

It’s that time of year again, spring cleaning. Perhaps you’re doing the yard work or cleaning out the garage or closet, but what about that chore many companies dread, dealing with their growing archive of back-up tapes. While many think back-up tapes are a thing of the past and consider the technology to be “old-school”, the management of tapes continues to haunt those who use them as their back-up solution or are considering moving their content to a Cloud or NAS solution. While admittedly it is not as easy as picking up a rake or throwing out old clothes, there are plenty of good reasons to climb out from under all those tapes. In this, the first of a two part blog, we will discuss reasons for tackling your company’s ever growing accumulation of tapes. In our next blog we will address “record retention” policies as they play a key role in the final disposition of data. One of the best reasons to rid yourself of rooms full of tapes is to reduce your company’s exposure should you be involved in litigation. At the 2012 Compliance, Governance and Oversight Counsel (CGOC) Summit, a survey revealed that typically 1% of corporate information is on litigation hold, 5% falls into a records category, and 25% has current business value. The result shows that 69% of information which most companies retain has no business or legal value.  If regulations or laws require your industry to keep information for seven years, why on earth would you keep anything longer than that? Not only are you open to having to produce more data as part of the ediscovery process, but the additional data also means increased expense in processing, searching and producing it to an adversary. The key here, however, is to take action prior to the anticipation of litigation. If you wait too long and you’re faced with potential litigation, a duty to preserve relevant information kicks in and the risk for claims of spoliation and sanctions will arise. Should you decide to implement your “clean-up” at the wrong time without regard to the data contained on the tapes you end up inadvertently raising a huge red flag. A second reason to shed your shelves of tapes is for organizational purposes. Move your data to media that allows for de-duping (saving storage space), archiving, centralized reporting and ready access. When that restoration request arrives won’t it be great if you don’t have to “find” the tape(s), load the tape(s), and wait hours for a restore to complete? The undertaking of tape restoration may seem overwhelming at first blush, especially if you have thousands of backups. We have found that by considering such things as your deleted items retention policy coupled with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly backups, literally thousands of tapes can be immediately eliminated from the population that one needs to keep or restore. For example, if your Microsoft Exchange Server organization is configured with a 65-day deleted items retention period, you may only need to consider full backups from every other month.  Microsoft Exchange, when configured properly, will maintain user deleted objects even after they have been removed from the deleted items folders.   Once you understand the big picture, you may be able to lessen the amount of data you retain and decrease your costs. Still not sure how to tackle your growing archive of data?  Be sure to check out our next blog where we will address a few best practices surrounding record retention policies to help you in deciding the best approach to customizing your company’s data retention plan.