One in four Americans say their garage is so cluttered they can’t fit their car in it. In the same way, many businesses clutter their servers. The amount of data businesses store is growing 45 percent a year, fueled almost entirely by data hoarding.
The falling costs of storage may be leading your company to incorrectly assume that you can store an infinite amount of data. Misconceptions about storage can eventually overwhelm you with data volume, drive up your costs, reduce your efficiency and risk data loss. Here are some of the dangers data hoarding represents for your business and how your can avoid them.
Wasted Space Equals Wasted Dollars
Some companies become fixated on storing every piece of data they generate, making them reluctant to delete anything, even if it no longer serves a purpose. Such data hoarding gets expensive because storage use is growing faster than the costs of storage are dropping, explains FTI Consulting. For instance, if the cost of data falls at 15 percent a year, as FTI estimates, while storage usage grows at 45 percent a year as Gartner reports, it’s easy to see that expanding storage use offsets the money saved from falling costs.
To minimize these rising costs, Gartner recommends making backup management a priority procedure. When using a data backup service such as Mozy, start by deciding what data you need to back up, asking yourself what you can afford to lose. To optimize your backup management, a best practice is to create a data lifecycle management procedure. Identify how long specific types of data need to be retained on your system and whether they should be moved into a secondary storage area or deleted after this period has expired.
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Data Analysis and Data Hoarding Inefficiency
Keeping all your data is a recipe for inefficiency. Many businesses assume that it’s better to have something than not, a principle which sounds good in theory but can lead to massive accumulation of useless data when left unchecked. Data often gets segregated into multiple departments and cannot be analyzed across an entire organization. The result is that public-sector data analysts spend 47 percent of their time collecting and organizing data, but less than a third of their time actually taking actionable steps based on that data, according to Government Technology.
To use stored data more efficiently, develop a strategic plan to streamline data collection, storage and analysis. Such a procedure should separate good data that has practical value from bad data, such as information irrelevant to company objectives, data from outdated time frames and unnecessary duplication.
Data Breach Risk
Data hoarding can also increase the risk of sensitive data getting compromised in the event of a data breach. Last year, Target was forced to agree to a $39 million settlement for a breach that exposed data from 40 million customers. In addition, a total of 700 million records were compromised globally from 1,673 data breaches in 2015, according to digital security firm Germalto.
To avoid these kinds of issues, the FTC recommends that businesses take a series of preventive steps, the first of which addresses data hoarding. Don’t collect personal information you don’t need. Hold onto such information only as long as you need it, and don’t use it when it isn’t necessary. For example, many companies doing e-commerce business don’t need to process or retain customers’ credit card information onsite, but can delegate this to an off-site financial provider or to a specific secure site area.
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