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Is your information management a time bomb?

A reliable information management strategy can both maximise accessibility and minimise risk, reducing potential headaches as businesses of all sizes face compliance, security and legal business requirements.

In order to illustrate the potential risks associated with remaining reactive with your information management strategy, here are seven threats that could impact not only the accessibility of your data but the long-term health of your business – especially if they are not discovered until your organisation is in a reactive, crisis mode. Even if you routinely backup and store information, your process may not be strong enough to protect your data from issues including:

–       Backup Software Failure. Although your organisation’s backup software is set up correctly, the actual backup data itself is never verified, effectively losing your data in a sea of information.

–       Storage Media Failures. Regardless of the readability of your storage media, failure is a simple fact of life. An organisation can face tape drive failure, corrupt or inaccessible tapes, or simply the information written to tape it no ‘readable’.

–       Human Error. One of the leading causes of data loss, human error can include simple errors such as accidentally re-initialising a tape or forgetting to enable to the append option before starting a backup.

–       Volume of Data and ‘Findability’. The sheer volume of data and the ability to find specific content within the corporate memory can be overwhelming.

–       Aging Systems and Obsolescence. Even in today’s world, the need to maintain legacy data, and convert old static systems to another format or newer technology can result in a loss of data.

–       Disaster – fire, water damage, mud, extraordinary cold, heat or other natural catastrophes are often the reason tapes become contaminated, damaged and no longer legible using standard means.

–       Forensically unsound methods – finally, while the data may be ‘readable’ by a human, moving it on incorrectly can modify the file or system metadata relied upon for compliance purposes.

Developing a system to effectively protect your information and avoid the data accessibility gamble does not need to be a time consuming, technically difficult or costly exercise. Technology can easily streamline the entire process. Rather than rely on a false sense of security, the following four simply steps are proactive measure to manage stored data more efficiently, reduce the load on your IT manage, and ultimate ease your mind and prepare you for any information demand you face.

1.Define the project

Defining the project scope and identifying the required technical and personnel resources is a step that cannot be skipped or completed half-heartedly. Recording the type of media and its condition is just as important as clarifying the suitable target medium. Even with apparently devastating damage, there is usually some sort of recovery possible offering the opportunity to arrange the company’s long-term backups better at the same time.

2. Analyse the data

An organisation must identify the contents of the media in order to make informed decisions later about data retention, destruction, or suitability for compliance or litigation readiness. Depending on the business needs, scanning, cataloguing or indexing the media can help an organisation narrow their focus to the relevant media.

3. Manage and Refine The Data

Organisations regularly complete daily, weekly, month-end and year-end backups. Although this is an industry ’best practice,’ the result creates multiple copies of the same data. Based on the previous analysis and knowledge of an organisation’s backup procedures, the relevancy data set can be culled further, and assuming there is no active legal hold on the data, the duplicate data can be deleted. If the data must be retained, backups can be consolidated by restoring them to higher capacity types.

4. Perfect Data Delivery

When defining a project’s scope, data conversion requirements may have been identified. It is important to understand the degree of complexity involved in order to keep the project on schedule and within budget. Some conversions are straightforward such as copying files from one computer system platform so they are readable by another platform, but other conversations may require more technical expertise. A more complex conversion may involve the manipulation of fields in a database.

Planning for data accessibility streamlines the effort to meet any regulatory or compliance needs and mitigates the associated risks. Organisations that define their information management strategies and employ the tips outlined above will see these results. Simply put, an information management strategy generated with a well-defined project plan, comprehensive documentation of data contents, improved usage of IT resources and timely delivery of data will greatly benefit your company, regardless of your storage solutions.

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Adrian Briscoe

Adrian Briscoe

Adrian Briscoe is general manager Asia Pacific for Kroll Ontrack, a provider of cutting-edge data recovery services and software to business and home users. Based in Brisbane, Adrian oversees the Ontrack Data Recovery services and software for the company’s offices in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. He originally joined Kroll Ontrack as an Electronic Evidence Consultant in the organisation’s London office. Prior, Adrian spent five years in Hong Kong with PricewaterhouseCoopers in its Corporate Finance & Recovery division. Adrian has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, initially starting out as a protocol specialist in London, working with IBM mainframe, mini and desktop systems.

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