By Dean Felicetti, Partner/VP Sales, The Oliver Group, an RVM Company
With the New Year now upon us and a bright 2019 ahead, everyone begins to adopt a familiar mantra: “out with the old!”
Whether it’s old habits, old ideas, or old clothes, everyone is eager to purge their lives of the clutter that ties them to the past.
Many businesses also find themselves tied to their past, though often that past goes much further back than 2018, or even 2017. They find themselves loaded with data that literally comes from a different era: the pre-digital age. For most of them the culprit is backup tapes, and they have lots of them.
Backup tape media comes in a variety of formats and is praised for its security, storage, and low cost. Over time, the improved accessibility and storage capacity of network and cloud-based repositories have led many companies to reduce their reliance on backup tapes. And, while backup tapes have not lost all value – they are still used to support business continuity by backing up cloud data and protecting against ransomware – they simply are not as needed as they once were.
Unfortunately, organizations have continued to store old backup tapes from a bygone time, and they are now left with a universe of tapes. Keeping backup tapes around indefinitely is impractical and expensive. The data becomes increasingly difficult to access, and with a shelf life on most tape media, data corruption looms large. In short, the cost of maintaining mountains of archaic media increases the longer it is held.
Keeping backup tapes can also pose a legal liability, as the data stored there can still be brought up in discovery even if it’s been maintained longer than legally required. Conversely, destroying or disposing of that data prematurely could pose a significant liability in the event of a litigation or investigation.
Certainly companies should not be faulted for storing and protecting their data. After all, it is a valuable asset. But, there is a better and more modern way to do it. The solution in the digital age is to digitize the data.
Most IT departments, and plenty of outside media vendors, are capable of copying the contents of tapes and uploading it into their current data storage system. However, tapes come in all shapes and sizes, and each runs off its own specific software. Working in such a diverse world requires a lot of costly infrastructure that few ordinary media vendors will have.
The right way to handle backup tape media starts with hiring backup tape services professionals. Properly trained experts will have the ability and infrastructure to preserve, sample, remediate, catalog, and restore data from a wide variety of tapes. In addition to using proper techniques when working with the media, experts will also strictly adhere to chain of custody protocols, taking into consideration both the physical and logical handling of backup tapes and their data.
In the end, your company will benefit from having a more efficient and accessible data storage system. And, should the backup data ever be called into question as part of a legal inquiry or investigation, you can be confident that it will stand up to any challenges.
So for 2019, see to it that your company resolves to unclutter those tapes!