If you’ve been considering data storage for your business recently, you’ve probably come across the terms data archiving and data backup along the way. These are actually different services that can work together to provide the most complete storage for your sensitive business information. Data archiving is all about storing static data for future discovery, whereas data backup is used to store changing data, as well as a recovery and restoration tool in the case of tampering or loss. Listed below are several data archiving strategies that make the move to comprehensive data storage as seamless as possible for your business.
Inventory your data and determine which data should be archived.
Where data backup covers storage for all of your business’s data, data archiving requires selecting only certain data to be stored. To determine what needs to be stored and when, it’s necessary to take into account the type of data your business handles. Any documents that would benefit from being discoverable, like emails, should be stored on a searchable archive database.
Unfortunately, there is no universal guide for determining which data to archive, so it’s best to map out a plan with each department of your business, along with your legal team, to determine what the smartest and safest course will be.
As a general rule, it is safe to archive all your static data — data that hasn’t been modified in several months. Take a look at the date your data was last accessed and then set a protocol for when that data, and similar data, is “eligible” for archive storage.
Assign a retention schedule to each category based on compliance regulations.
Businesses who handle sensitive client data, such as healthcare practitioners, lawyers, and real estate agents, should be aware of the industry regulations regarding the storage of specific data. For example, HIPAA regulations require medical practices to retain patient data for a specified length of time according to each state’s guidelines. At Nordic Backup, we provide HIPAA compliant data backup and complete the strictest audit for this service to certify our facilities and procedures are top-notch.
Patients or clients who are no longer active may be some of the easiest records to archive first. This data segment is a good starting point if you’re just beginning to implement an archiving strategy. While their records need to be maintained for legal reasons, their files are no longer active and do not require continual backup.
Develop a comprehensive archive policy.
To keep everyone involved with your business on the same page, it is recommended to create an archive policy that includes a formalized and comprehensive set of procedures and rules. This would consist of:
Criteria for archiving data (which will likely be different for each data type)
Mechanisms that facilitate the data archiving process
Type of media used to store data
Duration of data storage (which, again, will vary according to type)
Rules for who has access to the archived data and under what circumstances
Developing a robust policy as outlined above needs input from your company’s IT department and executives, as well as the data archive software company’s administrators and applications owners. The goal is to create a document that is manageable and enforceable, which requires the validation of your company’s legal counsel and annual review/update.
Protect the archive’s integrity against tampering and loss.
The security of your archived data should be a critical factor when choosing a company to handle your business’s sensitive information. Like mentioned above, many industry regulations require certain data to be protected against tampering and loss. Data archiving does not secure information to the level most regulations require. This is where data backup comes to play.
Encryption is key to making sure private documents stay that way. Using encryption allows you, the business owner, the ability to grant and restrict access to certain data according to your employees’ roles and circumstances. This makes sure that an end user can’t modify archived data as a way of covering up unethical behavior. Data loss is also mitigated by a secure data backup service through storage on redundant servers, like those at Nordic Backup. And, if the archived data ever needs to come out of storage, it can be backed up whenever modifications are made.
Data backup should also provide an auditing mechanism that can alert you anytime someone accesses, or attempts to access, your archived data. This creates extensive audit logs for you to call up whenever your archived data is called into question.
Choose a data archive product for your business.
With so many options for both data archiving and data backup services available, it is important to have a checklist of functionalities that must be present to ensure the highest quality data storage. In addition to what is mentioned above, we recommend finding services that include:
Search & Discovery – the software should contain an efficient and flexible search engine to recall archived documents.
Multi-Platform Support – the software should work with a number of popular applications and platforms.
Data Deduplication Engine – the software should track duplicated data and replace it with a reference that points to the original copy, which increases storage space.
Automated Backup – the software should provide automation capabilities to ensure data is always archived according to policy and no data is left behind.
Data archiving is just one part to ensuring your business is on the right path to critical data storage. You should also consider a data backup service to create a comprehensive storage system for you and your client’s sensitive information. At Nordic Backup, our Small Business secure cloud storage provides all the necessary tools and functionalities to keep your concerns over data backup worry-free: encryption, auditing, and secure redundant servers. We also store previous file versions for 60 days or more, so your data will transfer to an archive seamlessly.