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November 13, 2012

New Study Looks at How Long We Want or Need to Store Data

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

We are all told that there are consequences for our actions. And, in a data-driven world, unfortunately we know what the consequences of losing or not keeping critical business and personal data can be. This raises some interesting questions as to the value of data and the steps that need to be taken to safely protect and archive it.

A note exactly disinterested party to these questions is Minneapolis, MN-based Rimage Corporation, a provider in the secure multimedia content management and delivery sector whose product line includes CD, DVD and Blu-ray-Disc publishing solutions that enable businesses to securely deliver their videos, documents, audio files and images in today’s multiplatform, multidevice world. It has provided some clarity on the subject in its recently released, “2012 Data Archiving Study.” The findings from a survey of more than 100 business executives done back in September are illuminating, to say the least.

As the infographic below highlights, amongst the findings were that 98.4 percent of business executives believe there are consequences when a company fails to properly archive data and 33.1 percent report that certain types of corporate data need to be archived for as long as 20 to 50 years.  Yes, for that long, for compliance reasons as well as for in this day and age developing actionable business intelligence.

Rimage’s conclusion about the results was that it “underscores the increasing amount of value being placed on data, including 93.5 percent of respondents who said that some files urgently need to be kept secure.”

The top categories cited for longer storage and security included:

  • Financial records – 66.1 percent
  • Medical records – 65.3 percent
  • Legal documents – 53.2 percent
  • Corporate secrets – 50 percent

This is not just about longevity. In fact, respondents stressed that ensuring the value of the information as well as its longevity was vital. An overwhelming majority (98.4 percent) emphasized that they foresaw significant consequences when archiving was not done properly, including:

  • Important intellectual property could be lost – 81.5 percent
  • Company could fall out of compliance with the law – 73.4 percent
  • Company could be fined – 52.4 percent
  • File recovery could be slowed down – 51.6 percent

Rimage also discovered that while executives are concerned about the proper storage and long-term accessibility of data at work, they were equally as concerned regarding their personal data used at home.

The survey found that nearly nine out of 10 executives (89.5 percent) say they plan to keep their digital family photos for life, with 62.9 percent saying the same of their medical records. 

When asked what types of personal data require a hard copy backup such as an optical disc, it was no surprise that 72.6 percent said family photos, followed by personal videos (47.6 percent), bank statements (38.7 percent) and credit card information (35.5 percent).

The need for “hard copy” backups of personal data was almost unanimous.

  • 91.1 percent said they prefer to receive a disc along with any new software they buy
  • 85.5 percent said the same of the music they purchase. 

Again not surprisingly, the top reason was the risk of computer crashes (75.8 percent and 54.8 percent, respectively).  Plus, 86.3 percent said they like to receive their personal medical records on a disc, citing the security of that data as the top reason (45.2 perent).

“The results of our research demonstrate that despite the growth of online storage, some content requires local, physical storage options like optical discs,” said Rick Backlund, worldwide product manager at Rimage Corporation. “That’s why Rimage released the Rimage Producer IV series disc publishing system, even as we invest in online alternatives to disc.”

While the sample size is small, my suspicion is a larger sample would have revealed similar results. It may be that we are headed toward a cloudy world, but given the perspective on how long things need to be saved it appears that hard copy is not going away any time soon. The real challenge is to not just store it, but ensure its accessibility and integrity. How many copies of something are needed for true piece of mind and how the storage process, i.e., working from a master and making it easily accessible and reproducible are additional issues in this space. Research on those subjects will be fascinating as well. 

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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