Tape Remediation 101

Tape Remediation is a new trend in the stored data industry. The InfoRiskAwareness blog recently published an overview of this topic that outlines the why’s and how’s. Here’s a recap:

Tape remediation is a relatively new concept when dealing with legacy data; however, it’s quickly becoming a key concern for organisations. When outlining a new topic or idea, all good investigators go about filling in the five W’s, so this blog uses this same approach to help IT departments investigate this new information management method.

What is tape remediation?
Tape Remediation is the search, discovery and extraction of unstructured files and email contained on legacy backup tapes. Once this data is placed in its proper repository according to retention policies, tapes can be remediated or recycled. By indexing backup data and remediating the tapes, organisations will save significantly by reducing offsite storage costs, and reduce their risk of exposure from unknown legacy content lying undiscovered in offsite salt mines.

Why implement tape remediation?
New legal discovery requirements are forcing IT departments to produce data from legacy backup tapes. Ignoring these tapes and allowing them to stockpile is not a process endorsed by corporate legal. As a result tape remediation projects are being driven by corporate counsel in order to take control of liability and eliminate data that is no longer required. Also, storing thousands of backup tapes gets costly over time, as does the continuous purchase of new backup tapes. A remediation project will pay for itself rapidly and save the organisation future investments in both storage fees and tape purchases.

When should I start a tape remediation project?
The sooner the better. Proactive discovery and management of legacy data on tape is much preferable to a reactive eDiscovery fire drill. By implementing a near term tape remediation project, IT will be able to apply corporate retention policies to all historic data. This data can then enable informed decision making prior to litigation, and also serve as a corporate knowledge asset. Legal can then access data quickly and easily as it is needed and also perform early case assessments using actual corporate data.

Where do my tapes need to be moved?
If you store your tapes in a secure onsite facility no move is necessary – the technology needed for direct indexing can be brought to you. Or many skills eDiscovery consultancies, which adhere to strict chain of custody guidelines, are available to assist with a remediation project, but tape shipments to their facility would be required.

Who can perform a remediation project?
Tape remediation is easily executed by in-house IT staff. Direct tape indexing technology allows automated indexing, search and extraction of backup data contained on tape without the need to ever restore it. No special skills or historic backup software is needed for direct indexing. Corporate legal and records management will likely be involved to provide search terms, custodians and date ranges that are of interest. Trained discovery service providers are also available to work with you if you prefer to outsource a remediation project.

How does my organisation benefit from tape remediation?
In the past it was far too expensive and difficult to understand the content of old backup tapes. All email and files would need to be restored by the original backup software first, and then analysed in order to determine what to keep and what to purge. Restoring thousands or tens of thousands of tapes was out of the question. It would take too much time, money and legacy infrastructure.

The problem has now been solved by eliminating the need for expensive and time consuming backup restoration and applying a more intelligent approach. Direct indexing technology scans tapes and then searches and extracts specific files and email without the original backup software. This allows you to only deal with relevant files (typically less than 2% of the tape content) and not the bulk of useless content. Direct indexing has made tape remediation an achievable, affordable project that reduces corporate data storage expenses and minimises risk of sensitive, undiscovered data.

By outlining the 5 W’s of tape remediation it quickly becomes clear that this type of project will reduce risk and save money for organisations. It takes a shift in mentality for organisations to begin digging up tapes created for disaster recovery and start moving or remediating this data. However it’s the prudent thing to do in the age of ever growing volumes of data, tighter budgets, strict compliance guidelines and a very real risk of liability.