The Importance of Data Archival for SMBs


When multiple disciplines overlap within an organization, it can lead to confusion, unnecessary redundancy and additional costs. Such is the case with data archival, which is often confused with data backup by many small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs). Both are critical to data protection and utilize some of the same technology to copy data. But understanding the distinction between archival and backup is important to maintaining an efficient storage infrastructure and strategy.

Archival involves copying and preserving data in its original form for long-term recordkeeping. This data is typically retained for research, auditing, legal or regulatory compliance purposes. Archived data doesn’t require high recovery speeds, but it must be searchable so you can locate and retrieve specific files when necessary.

Backup involves copying data, as well any revised versions of that data, for short-term retention. This enables organizations to quickly recover these files in case of a disaster or security breach that results in data loss or corruption.

Organizations that fail to separate archival from backup end up saving far too much redundant data, resulting in unnecessarily high storage costs, disorganized data and an inability to monitor data growth rates.

Implementing a sound archival strategy can help SMBs by:

  • Reducing storage costs. Archiving data that will be rarely accessed, if ever, frees primary storage capacity, which is more expensive. Archived data can be moved to a less costly storage tier, such as tape.
  • Reducing backup windows. Tools such as data compression and de-duplication dramatically reduce the amount of storage and bandwidth consumed by backup processes, but backup windows are stressed by exploding volumes of data. Archival reduces the strain by eliminating the need to back up unaltered files over and over again.
  • Maintaining legal and regulatory compliance requirements. Archival preserves and organizes data that must be saved for a certain amount of time to meet compliance requirements. It further ensures that relevant data can be located and accessed quickly in the event of a lawsuit or other legal proceeding.
  • Retaining knowledge. We live in a world of big data. While organizations learn how to mine this data to create competitive advantages, it needs to be properly stored.

The first step to developing an effective archival strategy is to identify what data must be archived, for what purpose and for how long, especially if your company is subject to industry-specific legal or regulatory compliance requirements. Are you archiving email, transactional data/databases, unstructured files or a combination of these? Each requires a somewhat different approach. It’s also important to choose archival software with comprehensive search and retrieval tools — these are the capabilities that separate archival solutions from backup systems.

Data archival is a distinct discipline with different considerations than backup. Let, your outsourced IT department, help you determine your archival requirements, evaluate your options and optimize your storage strategy.