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What Is Data Archiving? Goals, Techniques, and Best Practices

September 14, 2023

Data archiving

Every click, swipe, or tap continues a data trail that adds to the vast mosaic of our online world. Maintaining, safeguarding, and organizing our digital valuables becomes increasingly essential. 

Archive storage solutions are designed for long-term data preservation. This kind of data isn’t required for day-to-day operations, but it’s retained for commercial or regulatory reasons. Storage solutions, which frequently incorporate data compression, deduplication, and encryption, are meant to be cost-effective while maintaining data integrity. 

Digital data adoption takes center stage when innovation is constant and digital information flows like a never-ending river. Managing and protecting this wealth of data becomes critical as our digital footprint expands exponentially. 

Like how we put seasonal decorations in a storage room for most of the year to keep a living space tidy, data archiving relocates rarely-used information to a safe location. This makes retrieving vital information easy without clogging up your active storage spaces.

In another scenario, consider your website a treasure trove of material, with each piece of information working as a valuable jewel. As time passes, some of these treasures may become less relevant or accessible but still retain historical significance. 

Data archiving systematically stores such less-used but important jewels, guaranteeing that your virtual chest remains orderly and that excess data doesn't slow your website's performance. 

A data archiving strategy not only increases the performance of your website but also contributes to preserving your digital history.  

Objectives of data archiving

Data archiving goals include contributing to effective data management, complying with regulations, preserving digital history, and recovering data from disasters if they occur. Specifically, they concern:

  • Long-term storage. Archiving aims to guarantee that essential, inactive data stays accessible and undamaged for a prolonged period. It protects entities against data loss from hardware failures, system breakdowns, or technical changes.
  • Cost optimization. Archiving frees up resources in active storage systems by shifting obsolete material to a different place. This enhances overall system performance and lowers the cost of high-performance storage options.
  • Compliance and regulatory requirements. Laws require many industries to hold onto certain types of data for a specified time. Correct data preservation keeps companies up-to-speed with regulations. 
  • Historical reference and analysis. Archived data contains significant data lineage, insights, trends, and patterns from the past, even when it’s not currently operational. It might still contain information that helps make informed business decisions or forecast trends.
  • Efficient data management. A well-organized data environment calls for well-preserved data. It keeps old material out of active storage locations, allowing users to identify and retrieve the information they want rapidly.
  • Knowledge management. Critical institutional knowledge is frequently incorporated into historical data in organizations. Organizations often incorporate critical information into their historical data storage. Proper archiving guarantees that this information is available even when staffing changes.

Data archive vs. data storage vs. data backup

Data storage keeps information close at hand. Data backup is concerned with the speedy recovery of recent, compromised data to ensure business continuity. Finally, while data archiving draws a little bit from storage and a little bit from backup, its main focus is preserving older, less-used data. 

Regulatory compliance, optimization, and historical reference are all necessary for effective data management. Storage handles current operating demands, and archiving addresses long-term preservation and resource efficiency.

Terms  Data Archive Data  Storage Data Backup
Purpose Transferring historical data to separate storage to optimize resources and ensure long-term preservation Storing digital information on a storage device, such as hard drives, solid-state drives, or cloud storage Copying current data to assure its availability in the event of data loss, system failures, or calamities
Use case Used for valuable data that is no longer required for day-to-day activities Houses active data  Designed to restore data to its most recent condition swiftly
Accessibility  Long retrieval times Readily available Readily available
Data lifecycle Guarantees that important information is kept in perpetuity, even after it has been removed from operational systems. Often preserved for a limited time before being erased or moved to another storage device or solution. The lifecycle of archived data varies based on the protection, size, and recoverability. 
Software Archiving storage solutions Object storage solutions Backup software solutions

Benefits of data archiving

Data archiving goes beyond simply keeping data around; the practice lets enterprises improve productivity, maintain compliance, make educated decisions, and secure their digital assets for long-term retention. 

  • Historical data provides significant insights, trends, and patterns. Archiving guarantees that historical data stays available for examination, where it can help users make informed decisions.
  • Active, accessible, changeable data often needs robust storage and processing resources. No one uses archive files as much, which frees up resources, improves system efficiency, and lowers expenses.
  • Digital assets such as records, papers, and research studies are frequently valuable over time. Data archiving protects these assets from data loss, device problems, and technological obsolescence.
  • Archiving is consistent with successful data governance practices and confirms that data is well-organized, easily accessible, and accurately classified.
  • Security precautions are included in proper archiving methods to safeguard archived data from unwanted access or breaches.
  • Unexpected incidents interrupt business operations. By securing backup copies of vital data, archiving keeps business continuity afloat.

Key data archiving laws

Here are a few laws and regulations with particular data retention policy requirements to give us a better understanding of data retention's function in compliance.

  • According to Article 5(e) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data must be “kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed.” GDPR allows firms to retain personal data for extended periods “insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific, or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1).”
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) doesn’t contain any uniform criteria for archiving medical data because it varies by state. However, it does include clear information about retaining HIPAA-related documents.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires businesses to keep records for at least three years. Time cards, schedules, and earnings records must be retained for two years to compute pay. Department of Labor agents must be able to access all records for examination.
  • As per Sec. 802(a)(1) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), “any accountant who conducts an audit of an issuer of securities to which section 10A(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 applies, shall maintain all audits or review workpapers for a period of five years from the end of the fiscal period in which the audit or review was concluded.”

Challenges of data archiving

Data archiving presents several problems businesses must overcome to successfully manage their stored data.  Below are five issues you might have to figure out.

  1. Data volume and growth: Maintaining and preserving massive amounts of information can become overwhelming as volumes expand exponentially. Providing scalable archiving solutions to accommodate rising data quantities is no easy feat.
  2. Data classification and identification: You have to make some difficult choices about which data to preserve based on relevance, regulatory requirements, and usage trends. Make sure to correctly identify and categorize material for archiving to ensure efficient retrieval.
  3. Data retention regulations and compliance: Different sectors have different data retention regulations. Preserving data while conforming with these standards and staying accessible for audits tests every information professional, especially when regulations change.
  4. Material retrieval and accessibility: Archived material is often less accessible than current data. It’s a balancing act to keep preserved data easily recoverable without compromising security.
  5. Obsolescence of technology: As technology advances, data formats, storage methods, and archiving procedures will need to be updated. Guaranteeing the long-term accessibility of preserved data presents substantial difficulty.

Best practices for data archiving

You have to have a plan for data archiving as a crucial component of your data lifecycle management policy. It allows you to save information and maintain a realistic storage budget simultaneously. 

Tip: A data archival strategy improves the performance of critical resources in your active system, allowing users to immediately access data archive storage devices or plans for easier retrieval and more cost-effective data preservation.

The following are the top five recommended techniques for building a strong data archival strategy.

1. Establish clear archiving policies

Create well-defined archiving policies that specify the kind of data to preserve and parameters for when it should be archived and how long it should be kept. Implement data eligibility criteria to maintain consistency and compliance with rules.

2. Sort and prioritize data

Categorize data by its value, sensitivity, and frequency of use. Not every data point requires the same level of preservation. Prioritize data archiving based on business demands, regulatory constraints, and historical importance.

3. Put data security measures in place

Set up encryption, access controls, and authentication systems to ensure preserved data security. Audit and monitor access to archived data regularly to avoid illegal access.

4. Use scalable and efficient storage solutions

Choose archiving systems that can handle expanding data volumes. Consider applying cost-effective storage such as tape archives or cloud archiving systems to manage fees.

5. Focus on document archiving

Keep thorough records of your data archiving operations, including rules, methods, and reasoning behind data archiving choices. This documentation comes in handy for audits, ensures consistency, and functions as a reference for future decision-making.

Data archiving solutions

Archive storage solutions typically keep emails, documents, and other data that aren’t immediately relevant, but still have value for historical reference, compliance, or data recovery. These systems can support physical storage, such as tapes, and digital storage, such as cloud-based services.

Top 5 archive storage software:

* Above are the five leading archive storage solutions as per G2’s scores. 

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Unlocking the future of data archives

Data archiving emerges as a steady custodian of information in the fabric of our digital era, maintaining the threads of history, compliance, and efficiency. As we weave through the currents of innovation, we discover that data archiving protects our history and steers our future. It lets us make educated judgments, navigate regulatory environments, and optimize resources. 

As technology advances, the significance of appropriate data preservation and protection will stay constant, providing a link between the well-known past and the undiscovered territory ahead.

Seize the opportunity and discover more about data protection!

Archiving storage solutions
Master the art of data preservation

Elevate your data preservation game with archive storage software designed for the future.

Archiving storage solutions
Master the art of data preservation

Elevate your data preservation game with archive storage software designed for the future.

What Is Data Archiving? Goals, Techniques, and Best Practices Discover how data archiving holds onto past insights while optimizing resources. Learn about what information preservation is and its brand-new ideas.
Samudyata Bhat Samudyata Bhat is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2. With a Master's degree in digital marketing, she currently specializes her content around SaaS, hybrid cloud, network management, and IT infrastructure. She aspires to connect with present-day trends through data-driven analysis and experimentation and create effective and meaningful content. In her spare time, she can be found exploring unique cafes and trying different types of coffee.

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