Archiving, in the context of technology and unstructured data management (also see Data Archiving), is the process of storing and preserving data in a systematic and organized manner for long-term retention. It involves moving data from active or primary storage locations to secondary storage systems or media, with the goal of freeing up primary storage space while ensuring data is securely preserved for future reference. Additionally, rising data storage costs, unstructured data growth, data sprawl, data center consolidation, cloud migration and new approaches to data tiering are all drivers of modern data archiving strategies.

When data is archived, it is typically less frequently accessed or modified compared to active data. Archiving and process of archival data allows organizations to manage data growth, improve system performance, and maintain compliance with data retention policies and legal requirements.

Key points to understand about archiving and archival data

The primary purpose of archiving is to retain data that is no longer actively used but may still hold value for reference, regulatory compliance, legal reasons, or historical purposes. Archiving helps organizations maintain data integrity and accessibility while optimizing primary storage performance and resources.

  • Thumbnail_600x400_CCC7pitfalls-30x20Data Selection: The process of archiving involves identifying and selecting data to be moved from primary storage to secondary storage. Organizations define criteria for data selection, such as age, usage patterns, relevance, or specific retention policies, to determine which data should be archived.
  • Storage Systems or Media: Archived data is typically stored on secondary storage systems or media that provide cost-effective and scalable storage options. These may include network-attached storage (NAS), tape libraries, cloud storage, or dedicated archival storage solutions. The choice of storage medium depends on factors like data volume, access requirements, retention policies, and budget considerations.
  • Indexing and Metadata: Effective archiving involves organizing and indexing the archived data to enable efficient retrieval. Indexing involves creating a catalog or database that records relevant metadata about the archived items, such as file names, dates, file types, and other attributes. This helps in locating and retrieving specific data when needed. See Global File Index.
  • Data Security and Integrity: Data security and integrity are crucial aspects of archiving. Archived data should be protected from unauthorized access, loss, or corruption. Encryption, access controls, regular backups, and data integrity checks are implemented to ensure the security and reliability of archived data.
  • Retrieval and Access: Although archived data is stored in secondary storage, it should still be easily accessible when required. Organizations establish data retrieval mechanisms, search capabilities, and access controls to locate and retrieve specific archived data efficiently. This may involve using search indexes, metadata filters, or specialized archival software.

Archiving practices may vary depending on the specific requirements and industry regulations. Organizations often develop archiving policies and procedures to govern the storage, retention, retrieval, and disposal of archival data, ensuring compliance, data governance, and efficient data management, and more specifically unstructured data management, practices.

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