Survey reveals archiving/backup confusion

By Ann Silverthorn

—A survey conducted by eMedia and commissioned by BridgeHead Software reveals that the process of archiving data is often misunderstood and inefficiently implemented by US enterprises. The survey concludes that failing to archive properly can jeopardize business operations.

More than half (54%) of the respondents say that if they knew which data on their primary data storage systems would never have to be accessed again, they could reduce the volume of data in primary storage by 20% to 50%. However, only 5% of respondents expect to archive less data over the next year than in the past year, 12% expect no change, and 41% don't know. The remainder of the respondents expected to increase their archived data volumes by 33% on average over the next year.

Almost a quarter (23%) of the survey respondents admit that they do not archive data in a way that would enable them to find a three-month-old lost file. Estimating how long it would take to retrieve such a file is not possible for 20% of the respondents; 10% say it would take more than a day, 2% more than a week, and 6% would not be able to find it at all.

"The figures regarding the lost three-month-old file may seem extraordinary, but they exemplify how traditional file journaling during backup is not up to the complex task of managing offline files for long periods of time, which archiving and media management technology address," says Patrick Dowling, senior vice president of corporate marketing at BridgeHead.

Despite government regulations that mandate data availability, the survey reveals that regulatory compliance is a primary driver for archiving for only 15% of the respondents, and only 29% cite data growth as a primary driver for archiving. For 40% of respondents, disaster recovery and business continuity are the primary drivers.

"The prevalence of disaster recovery and business continuity as a driver suggests that users are more aware that disasters can happen anywhere, at any time," says Dowling. "On the other hand, there is a sense that the complementary roles of archiving and backup often are not clearly understood."

To illustrate, 35% of the survey respondents claim to archive manually using backup software. These individuals seem to be unclear regarding the difference between archiving and backup.

With the respondents' average primary store in the range of 3.5TB, archiving could enable major reductions in storage costs. Archiving moves older data from primary storage to less-expensive storage resources and removes the need for day-to-day management of that data. Backup makes a copy of the data on primary storage and stores it on separate storage devices to be accessed in case of data corruption or disaster. The data that has been copied remains on primary storage and must be managed on a continuing basis.

This article was originally published on January 18, 2006