Archive vs Backup
Everyone wants every file, everywhere, all the time. This is not feasible, nor cost effective. Not only does your data have to be identified as structured vs. unstructured, critical versus non-critical, but now you have to decide which data is “hot” or “cold.”
Hot Or Not
Hot data is the data you need to complete current and future obligations. For instance, an ad agency will need the photos from the latest shoot to build the print ad. The development shop (code monkeys) will need the latest versions of the GIT repo (where versions of code are stored). Data like this must be kept readily available and protected at all costs.
“Cool” Leather Jacket
Cold data is past clients, completed projects, or terminated employee files. Think of this type like the box in your attic of old family film reels, CDs and VHS tapes, board games, tax returns from 2008, and your “cool” leather jacket. You might look at this stuff every 5 years, but you can never find the strength to throw it away. It’s stuff you need almost never. But in the case of the tax returns, not throwing them away may save you a lot of money and grief if you’re ever audited. The leather jacket should go, however. Sorry guys.
By not separating these types of data into two buckets, you’re wasting resources making things readily available that don’t need to be. A smaller, leaner, backup environment for higher-priority “hot” data results in a lower ceiling for needed space. This means you pay your service provider less, and they can restore lost data much faster, because there is less of it to sift through.
Who decides what’s hot or cold data? There is no rule of thumb. Each company should define their own policy with their business units, stakeholders, and IT. If you don’t separate your hot and cold data, your backup environment will look like an episode of Hoarders.
The final step in the process is selecting a provider. In Part V, we give you our top picks of who you should use and why.