For companies in heavily regulated industries, managing the rising tide of information and flood of EU and member state regulations can prove frustrating. But with a smart approach, you can find a painless way to back up critical corporate data in the most compliant way possible.

Data backup, archiving and recovery comprises an absolutely mission-critical set of IT tasks that call for excellent planning and execution. If your team can develop, implement and maintain a robust data-protection strategy, then you can be heroes, not scapegoats, in the unwelcome event of a crisis.

As you develop a compliant data backup and recovery plan, consider all your technology options, including a tape backup plan, and follow these five data backup best practices:

1. Plan for vast amounts of data.

Digital data is growing at a rate of over 40% each year, according to US consulting firm Horison Inc. And you’ve probably already noticed the mounting gigabytes of email and social media content - both of which usually fall under the same regulations as conventional records formats - in your own business. The requirement to store what may turn out to be terabytes of data calls for smart archiving and a focus on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Data volumes may be climbing, but it’s your job to keep up, and tape can help you get the job done. The most modern disk drives are usually limited to between 8TB and 10TB. Tape, on the other hand, now has the ability to hold 185TB (that's 37,000 times more than a Blu-ray disc), thanks to a new offering from Sony, which makes it a highly attractive method of archival storage from a TCO perspective.

2. Plan for redundancy.

It’s an important best practice to have a “backup of the backup.” This is traditionally tape’s role in the enterprise, and it is usually stored in a secure offsite facility. Look to the regulations for your industry as your guide. The law may prescribe the specifics of multiple backups. If not, it’s up to you to build up a fail-safe archive data storage system.

3. Make security a high priority.

Natural and man-made IT disasters (such as data breaches) are the stuff of business-page headlines. Adding offsite tape storage to any tape-based data backup disaster recovery plan keeps your company information safe. Storing your data in a safe, geographically remote location is a good insurance against local disasters. In the event of a business interruption, you can restore your data quickly and completely with the help of a trusted partner with expertise in this category.

4. Devise an intelligent retention plan.

The decreasing cost of data storage makes it easy for some businesses to simply store everything forever, sometimes in the cloud. However, many regulations call for a logical records retention plan that outlines what information is kept in which formats, and for how long. Once again, the regulators themselves may have already mandated that for your industry.

You can also look at optimising paper intensive processes. As companies work to increase efficiencies and better leverage resources, they are increasingly embracing shared services structures for key business functions. Initial success in finance and accounting means companies are looking to take the same model to other departments.

5. Plan for easy access.

Your organisation’s inability to grab a critical data set quickly - especially if a legal discovery or an audit calls for it - can get your business into trouble. Your data backup and recovery plan will probably include a tiered storage scheme in which you direct specific kinds of data to specific kinds of storage media, depending on how quickly you’ll need the information. You’ll probably mix disk-based and tape-based storage in an attempt to find the most efficient and least costly solution.

An efficient data backup and recovery programme is not a nice-to-have capability: your company’s livelihood ultimately depends on it. Following these steps, you should be able to produce a solid, workable framework for reliable and secure data backup and recovery, one that can withstand the white-hot light of regulatory scrutiny.

Iron Mountain Secure and Efficient Offsite Vaulting Services

Backup tape remains the optimal remote and local offline storage solution for data protection and archiving. Iron Mountain® Offsite Vaulting Services provides the processes, security and controls you need to keep those archives safe. Among its core services:

  • Dedicated transportation:Gain an ultra-secure and documented chain of custody for your most sensitive data.
  • Disaster recovery support: Get your company back in business quickly when (not if) an unexpected system outage occurs.
  • Tape library moves: Logistics support and expertise can help you relocate your entire backup tape library, or a portion of it, to an offsite facility.
  • Inventory audit: Avoid unknown or unresolved discrepancies in your tape inventory so your organisation can find the information it needs to get up and running in the event of a disaster.
  • Secure media destruction: Get a defensible, documented and repeatable process to prepare, handle or transport—and destroy, as necessary—your electronic media, either onsite or offsite.

Learn more about Iron Mountain data storage and protection services.