Tape Identification: A Smart Step in Data Retention

An effective retention program starts with taking stock of what you have and creating a solid, organized archive. Tape Identification services are key to achieving these goals.


With regulatory compliance and litigation reshaping the corporate landscape, businesses need to focus on building a solid retention plan that includes tape identification.


Your general counsel just called. Its team needs a year’s worth of employee performance evaluations—for all five of your locations. And oh, can you do that in 24 hours or less?

When you need data from your archives, it’s almost always on a “need it yesterday” basis. After all, audits, legal discoveries and technical failures are all unplanned, time- and resource-intensive occurrences. Burgeoning archives, however, can hamper restorations: As your business grows, so too does the volume of digital media you manage, and you may have trouble quickly identifying specific pieces of information in your tape archives.

Indeed, recent Iron Mountain research found that only 17 percent of companies polled had a formal retention policy for destroying data once it’s no longer relevant to their business. And that’s totally understandable. After all, how can you formulate a retention policy when you’re not even sure what’s in your archives and which files must be retained or destroyed?

Some businesses, including 25 percent of respondents to an Iron Mountain Data Backup and Recovery survey, take an extreme approach to managing their information: They adopt a “keep everything forever” retention policy.

The problem here? These companies are setting themselves up for managing an unwieldy, inefficient and costly archive.

Tape Identification is about knowing what’s on all those tapes; it’s a key step in not only speeding up data recovery requests, but also in making them more accurate. And when you properly identify information, it’s much easier to retain only what you need and destroy what you don’t. These steps save time and money.

Three Steps to More Efficient Archiving

A Tape ID service provider uses a three-step process to identify the types of data residing on your tapes and to account for their integrity:

  1. Hands-on accounting: physical control and inventory. The service provider’s team will physically inspect your backup tapes, log the inventory into a database, compare it to your initial logs and produce an accurate master list.
  2. Weeding out the duds: high-level content detection. The service team scans each tape to capture the backup set data (including the backup software, sessions, dates and servers). At this point it will also set aside blank, damaged, unreadable or incomplete tapes.
  3. Getting down to details: content sampling and visualization. You’ll receive tape samples with data from your target time span and servers, and gain access to detailed configuration information (including mail types, custodian lists and user files). Then you’ll be able to find most anything–and faster than before.

Identification: Risk Management in Motion

With regulatory compliance and litigation reshaping the corporate landscape, it’s increasingly unacceptable to avoid the retention issue. With this in mind, consider a rigorous Tape ID process as an important risk management step. If you don’t understand your company’s records, you won’t know what to protect and for how long.

Knowing what’s in your archives is critical to meeting compliance and discovery obligations and to a solid backup, retention and destruction schedule. After dealing with existing records, consider continuing your partnership with a Tape ID service to keep your archives clean and searchable.

Tape: A Reliable Medium Gains Momentum

Tape isn’t going anywhere. Enterprise Strategy Group research predicts that tape’s lead in the backup sector will increase during the next several years, experiencing 45 percent annual growth through 2015.

Why this growth? Improved tape technologies continue to boost tape storage capacities and speed, and the medium is seen as a viable long-term archiving solution—as long as you can discover and retrieve what’s stored on it quickly and accurately. That’s why Tape Identification services are so important to your archiving operation.

Your business comes out ahead when you understand what you have and keep only what matters, avoid risk by building a foundation of archives that are retained and destroyed by a solid set of rules, and get faster turnaround for your information requests related to discovery or compliance events. Tape ID can help get you there.


Got I.D.?
Team Up with a Full-Service Tape Identification Partner

Getting control of your archives today will make for a more efficient operation tomorrow. The proactive indexing of Iron Mountain® Tape Identification service can help you understand the contents of your backup tapes. You’ll be able to:

  • Identify information residing on your backup tapes
  • Respond quickly when asked to produce information for discovery or other time-critical requests
  • Reduce risks of penalties or fines for failing to respond to a legal discovery or compliance event
  • Develop a defensible tape retention plan, knowing that you’re keeping only the data you need
  • Make more confident decisions about data retention, destruction and restoration

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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