Ask Adele, "How Long Are You Storing Your Data?” [New E-book]

Actually, if your job is to set backup retention policies and storage strategy, maybe Adele isn’t the right person to ask. After all, her new hit suggests that she holds on to stuff for an awfully long time:


“Hello, it's me, I was wondering/If after all these years you'd like to meet/To go over everything”

Sure, “25” has sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone and Adele’s video is on its way to nearly  a billion views, but it sounds and looks as though she may have backup retention issues. Worse yet, she probably needs rapid data recovery to get her hands (and nails) on all her data in a hurry. So she can meet. And go over everything.

Do you have people like that in your organization? How long do they insist on keeping their data in primary storage? How long are you willing to store it there for them?

I posted last time on business expectations about backup retention and suggested that you get off to a good start in 2016 by talking to managers in different departments about primary storage, secondary storage and backup retention policies. This time I’ll arm you with some research for those conversations.

“We were sad of getting old/It made us restless”

Old data and files do make you restless. And sad enough to forget about them after 90 days or so.

Research by Gartner shows that almost 95 percent of restoration jobs occur in the first 90 days of the life of their backup data. The last five percent is outlier territory; in almost all cases, you need active data on hand for no more than 90 days. Do you really want to spend precious dollars on enough primary storage to keep it accessible for restoring immediately? Better to start moving data and files out to secondary storage after 90 days.

The graphic above summarizes research by The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and shows that many companies are accustomed to storing their backup data for a long time. They have lots of Adeles and very few effective policies for primary and secondary storage, so they’re probably consuming expensive space on primary storage arrays. Your organization might be one of them.

If that doesn’t make you sad and restless, what does?

“I don't wanna be cruel or vicious/And I ain't asking for forgiveness”

You don’t need to be cruel or vicious, and you don’t need to ask for forgiveness. After all, this is only storage.

But you do need to set and enforce backup retention policies. The corollary to the ESG research is the notion of inactive backup data, which amounts to around half of all data in some companies. Imagine half of all the data in your organization occupying storage space and spinning around needlessly in storage arrays. Someday, somebody might need it, but in the meantime you’d better make sure that you’re storing it inexpensively.

We’ve released a new e-book called The Secondary Storage Squeeze: How Can I See It Coming? with perspectives, tips and processes on how long to keep your data in primary storage. It covers retention policies for moving backup data to devices like purpose-built backup appliances, depending upon the needs of your business, your data recovery plans and how many Adeles you have in your organization.