The Dangers of Data Growth

By Jennifer Walzer, an EO New York member and CEO of Backup My Info!, a provider specializing in delivering online backup and recovery solutions for small to mid-sized businesses.

Data has multiplied in the last decade. According to Gartner research director April Adams, data capacity on average in enterprises is growing at 40 percent to 60 percent year over year, due largely to unstructured data, which is really at the crux of this article.

Ten years ago, online data backup was on the fringe – it was not a viable option for companies looking to protect their information. Today, by contrast, backing up to the cloud is more the rule than the exception for businesses seeking streamlined, secure, and reliable business continuity or disaster recovery solutions.  But just because online data backup is more commonplace, it doesn’t mean that businesses are managing this data explosion correctly.

All this data growth demands prioritization. Businesses cannot afford to treat all data equally. Companies may encounter serious issues if they opt to put huge amounts of data onto tapes or into the cloud indiscriminately.  Arguably, all data is important, but organizations need a structured or tiered approach to ensure critical applications and systems are operational first in the event of data failure. Here are a few tips to follow in order to manage skyrocketing data volume and plan an effective disaster recovery plan:

  1. Ascertain the critical. In polling online data backup customers, it was found that 10 percent of an organization’s data is business-critical whereas the remaining 90 percent is somewhat static and can be recovered at a later date.  In other words, find out which data is dynamic and prioritize that over the static data.
  2. Test your backups. Online data backup is not a passive enterprise. Businesses must proactively test their backups to ensure that they are working properly. All too often, organizations will take a “set it and forget it” approach to their data backup only to discover an issue once it’s too late.
  3. Have a plan. Assuming that you’ve determined which data is critical and that your backups are working properly, it’s time to create a plan. Many companies do not have an effective disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place, because they haven’t taken the time to determine what data needs to be recovered first. Instead, they back everything up without priority. The problem with that approach is that it delays the recovery process, since critical and non-critical data will be recovered in no particular order. Best practice dictates that, in the event of data failure, organizations recover the most critical data first in order to expedite a speedy recovery.

As data storage capacity has expanded, data has grown accordingly. In many ways, the ability to store more data empowers organizations, but it also presents them with the challenge of managing all of that information.  Even though it’s easier, don’t let your information sit idle. Check it. Interact with it. Organize it. You’ll be better off in the long run.

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