What’s the most uninteresting job you could ever do with your server, either on-premise or in the cloud? I’ll tell you, it’s housekeeping!
As technology has evolved and continues to evolve, we have the luxury of seemingly unlimited storage made available to us as end users. Take SharePoint and OneDrive for Business as an example. You can have 1 terabyte (1 terabyte = 1024 gigabytes = 1,048,576 megabytes) of storage for your company to use and share, and then, they’ll also to give you 1 terabyte (TB) for each user for personal storage. Another example is storage on on-premise servers. The very latest Proliant ML350 Gen 11 server from HPE has a whopping maximum storage capacity of 368 TB!
Just because you can store all this data, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. So here are my 3 really good reasons to housekeep your data and continue to keep it to a minimum.
- Reduces Costs – Top of the list is to reduce your costs, both CapEx and OpEx. Digital storage is relatively cheap on the surface, you only have to look on Amazon at portable hard drives or memory sticks to spot that. But in a business, you have to take steps to protect that data from all sorts of risks such as fire, flood, theft of computer equipment, cybercrime, hardware failure, accidental deletion and so on. The solutions out there to protect your business data are endless including backup solutions, RAID arrays, replication, and much more. Suddenly though, as soon as you put these protection measures in place, the ‘cost per gigabyte’ skyrockets from the Amazon portable hard drive example referred to earlier, to a full-fat, fault tolerant, fully managed storage solution. The less data you possess, the lower that on-premise server costs in the first place or the lower your cloud or hosted costs are per month. You will also benefit from lower backup costs too if you housekeep your data. No matter where your data is stored, you should always be backing it up (yes, even with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace!) and many organisations today use cloud backup systems. Immediate and significant savings are available as soon as you reduce the amount of data you’re storing and backing up. Put simply there is £’000s to be saved every year which goes straight to the bottom line of your profit and loss!
- Backups and Restores – The more data you have, the longer it takes to backup. From my experience in the field, I have seen nightly backup routines run for so long, that they are still running the morning after. In fact, it is not uncommon to see a backup routine take so long that it runs over the start time of the backup routine for the next day, i.e. it was taking longer than 24 hours. This is where you’re putting your data and your business at real risk. It also limits your choice of how many times a day you can run a backup and you’d be regularly suffering from poor performance in the middle of the working day. There are two ways to improve on this. Number one, buy faster servers, buy faster internet lines and buy faster storage. Or number two, reduce how much data you store on your systems. The good news is that the latter option requires little or no technical expertise and you can use in-house staff to make it happen, or put another way, there’s no direct costs. But, we haven’t got to the important bit yet! With large backups of your data, you need a large amount of time to restore it in the event of a serious incident. The pain, frustration and pressure is only too real when you need to restore systems quickly after a hardware failure, or if you’ve been the victim of a cybercrime. There’s also an increased risk of reputational damage to your business when you can’t serve your customers for a period of time, and the amount of professional IT services you consume during this event is bound to have a financial cost somewhere along the line. There’s a world of difference between your systems being offline for 2 hours and 2 days.
- GDPR – do not fear, I’m not going to blabber on about the ins and outs of GDPR here, but it is important to note that the very first step in becoming GDPR compliant is identifying and listing any data you possess in your organisation that can personally identify someone. If you’re storing digital data without having done any housekeeping for 10 or 20 years or even longer, the task of identifying that data accurately will not only be unimaginably difficult and unrewarding, but it’s highly likely chunks of personally identifiable information will be missed due to human error which could lead to a substantial fine from the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). Going through the housekeeping exercise means you’re familiar with what data you store, which means you’re subsequently less at risk of a fine from the ICO and it paves the way so you can move onto the next steps of becoming fully GDPR compliant.
So yes, it is a pain in the neck to housekeep your data, nobody wants to do it, but the benefits are there, and the benefits are significant.