When Backups are Dangerous: Create an Age-out Plan

June 12, 2017

Everyone knows that backups are critical to keeping business going. But with companies requiring longer and longer retention periods due to compliance or company policies, a little-known risk is starting to hit IT teams across the country.    

Maintaining backups for long periods of time is doable with verification and regular testing. However, companies are finding that the software used to access files kept in long-term backups may have become obsolete and require the use of a legacy operating system for access. Using legacy or obsolete software poses multiple different issues. Some software requires that you enter license keys that may not be available anymore or that must be renewed but no longer can be, Or, the legacy software may pose security risks due to age and lack of patching.

So, what can you do to prevent a legacy software kerfuffle? US Signal recommends creating an age-out plan, which allows for employing backup solutions based on how critical the data is that needs to be kept. Tweet this tip!

The first step is to identify which systems have critical data housed in proprietary software. Then, it is worth having an internal discussion about what parts of the data need to be kept. Isolating just the parts of the data that are required will help further minimize your data protection costs. Based on industry analyses, the percentage of data that must be saved hovers around 22% of the overall original data stores. This number is slightly higher in the medical and law industries, but not by much.

Exporting from proprietary software into commonly maintained formats like comma separated values (CSV), text (TXT), or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) allows you to open the data later with one of the many common programs that open those formats. If security is an issue, encryption can be built into the files or backups. Or,  for an additional layer of security, software can be used to build user correlation logs.

Once the age-out plan is in place, you can create a secondary backup plan that protects just the aged-out data. Rather than creating large backup trees, a much simpler backup plan can be created. The reduction in backup job complexity reduces the chances of a backup failure, as file complexity and meta-data size is minimalized. The secondary data can be sent to lower cost storage with a longer recovery time objective, further reducing your data protection costs.

US Signal offers a wide variety of data protection options to meet your company’s recovery point and time objectives. From full active-active protection to simple cloud storage repositories, US Signal can help you design a backup and disaster recovery strategy that minimizes your costs, while maximizing your protection. To get started, take advantage of US Signal’s free DR assessment. Or, call US Signal at 866.2.SIGNAL or email info@ussignal.com.