Litigation and Audits: They’ve Got Questions, You Need Answers
August 21, 2012
When you face the pressure of litigation or an audit, you need ready access to requested archival information. Your restoration strategy is the key to lessening the stress.
With an estimated 40-year lifespan and capacities consistently on the rise (currently LTO-5 capacity logs in at 1.5T), tape backup remains the most cost-effective solution for inactive data.
It’s 1 p.m. on a balmy summer afternoon, and your thoughts have already turned to sand, surf and what you’re grilling for dinner. All’s right with the world—until your company’s general counsel calls with an e-discovery request that requires an immediate response.
Such an incident shouldn’t be the point at which you discover how well—or how poorly—you’ve managed your information, particularly archived data in long-term storage. Getting the right data into the right hands quickly depends on two factors.
- Quickly map out what records and information resides on your legacy backup tapes?
- Efficiently identify and deliver the archive records contained on your backup media?
Act Before a Trigger Event
A discovery event can mean huge expenses for your business as you ramp up a response. In a 2011 Iron Mountain study, 32 percent of respondents said a trigger event, such as litigation, an audit or investigation, highlighted their company’s need to improve its information management processes. Doesn’t it make better sense to act before the fact by building a solid data archiving strategy that unites all your media?
Granted, this might not be easy. If your business is like most, your data resides in disparate systems (by some estimates, this accounts for more than 70 percent of stored data ). And electronic data is proliferating fast—more than 90 percent of new corporate data is digitally generated.
Regardless of the location or format(s) of your data, you need to consider much of that information as potential “evidence” that must be handled with the same care police officers take with DNA samples and other clues.
Your Archive in the Making
The first move is to establish a policy or set of policies for identifying and preserving information most likely to be summoned during an audit or litigation situation. Then:
- Understand your data. It’s constantly changing, so you must determine how much is archival. If your current archiving strategy is to keep everything, and if you can’t easily identify and access specific data, you may overcompensate by sending auditors or legal counsel too much information. As reported in eWeek, one Fortune 500 company pared down attorney review costs by more than $2.9 million simply by controlling and reducing the number of documents sent to outside counsel. When you let regulatory requirements and internal business needs drive your retention and destruction policies, you can develop more cost-effective, efficient and compliant backup, recovery, archival and long-term retention strategies.
- Safeguard information using encryption, access authorization and other methods as it makes its way through your systems and into your archives.
- Map out a data migration plan to move information from legacy systems (in various formats, some obscure) into readable formats and onto the media you’ve selected for your archive.
Tape: Staying in the Mix
It’s likely those media will include backups via tape, a method that has evolved into an information storage mainstay.
Tape is a good choice for the long-term retention of archival information you’re keeping for audit, litigation and regulatory purposes. With an estimated 40-year lifespan and capacities consistently on the rise (Currently, LTO-5 capacity is logging in at 1.5T), tape backup remains the most cost-effective solution for inactive data.
The Enterprise Strategy Group predicts that LTO tape cartridge sales will grow to a total of $720 million by 2015, and storing digital archives to tape will increase sixfold between 2010 and 2015 to more than 81,000 petabytes (or 81 exabytes).
Finding a Restoration Partner
Just as restoring an old home to its former glory may require experts, creating an effective and efficient discovery scheme that ensures litigation and audit requests are fulfilled quickly, completely and confidently may require expert help. An experienced, trusted partner can help you devise a strategy that will let your company:
- Establish a defensible process for capturing, archiving and organizing data
- Quickly and effectively restore evidentiary data to answer a request
- Easily locate electronic records during regulatory investigations
- Conduct investigations to address internal audits
- Mitigate the risk of fines, sanctions and loss of public trust
When you’ve taken these steps to enhance your company’s ability to respond to litigation, audits and other on-demand information requests, you’re investing in valuable peace of mind—while also creating a hedge against any unpleasant curveballs on late summer afternoons.
Iron Mountain Recommends
Select a partner that offers a full complement of archiving and restoration services. Iron Mountain offers:
- A header scan cataloging and indexing service to identify and organize improperly labeled or unlabeled media
- Full or selective restoration that restores media to an accessible archive, regardless of file format
- Media refresh, copy and conversion capabilities to copy or migrate irreplaceable data from one media format to another
- Audio and video conversion to MP3® and WMV files accessible via common PC tools
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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Tape: The Steady, Reliable Physical Backup Choice
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