From Creation to Destruction: The Story of Your Data's Lifecycle

Topics: Govern Information | Secure Shredding

Data is born; it lives, it lingers, and then it’s time for it to go. The smart enterprise embraces this lifecycle and optimizes it along the way to stay efficient and compliant.

DID YOU KNOW? You need to take control of your data before you drown in it. According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and 90% of the data in the world right now was created in the last two years.

FAST FACT: The LTO-6 tape format boosts the capacity of the previous LTO-5 format from 1.5 terabytes to 2.5 terabytes—or a whopping 6.25 terabytes when 2.5:1 compression is applied.

Whenever a business creates or collects any kind of data—files, presentations, photos or social media streams—one question arises first: Where will we store all this stuff? It’s a great question, but finding the answer isn’t the end of the story. It’s actually just the beginning of a saga about life and death that, although perhaps not as dramatic as Twilight, still has plenty of interesting twists and turns along the way.

Managing data successfully requires a holistic view of its entire lifecycle. Like a living creature, data is born, lives, grows older and, eventually, must die. Orchestrating that lifecycle in a cost-effective, efficient and compliant way is crucial to the success of your business. You’ll make important decisions all along the journey, and looking at the issues broadly in this start-to-finish way will help you choose your path wisely. 

Chapter 1: Data Creation

In the beginning, there is the file. An employee creates or collects it and then saves it, first locally and then perhaps on a local network server. If either disk or tape backup is attached to the server, a daily or periodic backup is also made. So far, so good.

Chapter 2: Data Archiving

Now it’s time to think about ways to protect the data from any man-made mistake or natural disaster that could befall it, and that means moving copies to a safe place. A well-rounded data backup and recovery strategy incorporates offsite tape storage with online backup and data restoration. It’s simple: You back up your data to convenient storage formats, move it offsite and make sure you can quickly restore it after any problem occurs.

Although tape is the preferred format for offsite data archiving, today’s options also include cloud-based technologies. This gives you the option to create a hybrid system, so you can place online smaller sets of short-term data that’s accessed often. Meanwhile, longer-term archives can go to the more cost-efficient and super-reliable tape archive. Offsite tape vaulting remains the top choice for data backup and recovery, as well as business continuity plans.

Chapter 3: Data Retention

Now your archive is growing, and while you may want to save everything forever, that’s not what smart businesses do. Cost and compliance issues may force you to create a records retention schedule that dictates when you should start destroying data you no longer need. How will you decide? State and federal regulations, plus your own industry’s rules, can guide you on how to remain compliant. Keep in mind that those rules change; you should update your schedule every 12 to 18 months to reflect changes in regulations and in your business.

Chapter 4: Secure Data Destruction

Time has passed, and your records retention schedule indicates that you must do some tossing. It’s time for a secure media destruction protocol that outlines a reliable, secure and environmentally friendly way to dispose of backup tapes, DVDs and other non-paper media. Look for a media destruction partner that offers strict security practices, extensive expertise, proven controls, and a documented chain of custody all the way to the end.

Chapter 5: Secure IT Asset Disposition

The data lifecycle story doesn’t truly end until every last vestige of your information is gone. That means it’s not just the paper files and backup tapes that have to go: You also eventually need to remove the obsolete equipment on which your files used to live. Data security and data privacy regulations force you to evaluate disposal and recycling processes surrounding destruction of electronic equipment, and that’s what secure IT asset disposition is all about. You should have the help you need to get rid of old computers and office equipment, making sure that the chain of custody continues all the way to the recycling center and that the gear is destroyed according to both privacy and environmental regulations.


The data lifecycle is a story with a beginning, middle, and—when all goes well—a happy end. Plan your data backup, recovery, archiving and destruction with this start-to-finish viewpoint, and you should end up with the best possible solutions for your business.

Iron Mountain Suggests: The Right Kind of Archiving

Iron Mountain can help you establish a world-class offsite data archiving plan that:

  • Protects and tracks your media while in transit and in storage using online data tracking software—you can catalog what you may need first after a disruption
  • Responds quickly to audits and discovery requests
  • Maintains compliance through a strict chain of custody
  • Provides ease of access to help you find what you need in a hurry
  • Ultimately reduces both the risks and costs of managing offsite media

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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