Every organization, large or small, generates records that must be kept available for various periods of time. A lot of these records are being saved as electronic data. There are several data storage options available. The decision about what type of storage to use depends on several factors such as: amount of data, format of the data, availability, security and content. Some data must be held in extra secure storage while other information is not quite so sensitive and can be stored with normal security precautions.
Some of the available storage options are: on site disc storage, networked data storage, offsite storage, virtual backups, and more. This article will discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of some of the options. There are some overlaps and some very distinct differences among the data storage options.
The simplest information saving strategy is to leave the information on the desktop machine or server where it resides as it is used. This costs nothing because the data is on the machine already. The security is as secure as the machine itself is. If the server or PC is in a locked room with very limited access it is somewhat secure. The problem is the single point of failure. If the machine or the drive fails the data will be lost or at best inaccessible. A home user might get away with this but it is not a real option for any business data.
The next information saving strategy is the regular backup onto removable media with storage on site. This means data is copied onto tape or removable disk and stored in a drawer or safe in a nearby location. This protects against single point failures like a drive or server failure and the data can be readily restored from backup. The only cost is the drive hardware and the storage media. Security is as good as the security of the desk drawer or safe where the data is stored.
The next more secure data storage is the offsite physical storage. This method has been used for years for paper-based documents and other records and is equally effective for data media. Data is transferred to removable media and the media is placed in storage in an offsite secure location. Recovering data can require a few days and security is as good as the physical security provided by the storage site.
Recent developments in technology have opened up the virtual storage possibilities (aka the cloud). Cloud-based storage options provide quick and easy storage with very quick data recovery/retrieval. Digital security measures such as data encryption enhance the security of the data. Additional security is provided by limiting the access to PCs and servers that can be used to access the storage. Since the data storage is priced by the Gigabyte the cost of this option can be reduced by compressing the files but compression can make retrieval slower.
Making a decision about which data storage option to use requires a certain amount of research and shopping around. It is vital that the user understand the limitations that each storage option has. Data that needs to be accessed on a regular basis probably should not be stored in secure offsite storage. Costs vary widely among the options and among providers of each option. The security required by the type of data being stored must be understood.
Employee information and personal medical data needs to be highly secure. Security breaches can result in fines and lawsuits that severely impact profits. Simple invoices and purchasing records may require less security. Product information may need to be protected against industrial espionage. Source codes for intellectual property will require strong data security measures.