File archiving is a valuable tool for any storage organization that needs to free up storage capacity -- shifting unused data off of active storage systems. For example, you may not know if you'll need a piece of data in five years, but you don't know if it's safe (appropriate) to delete it either, so you place the data into a long-term storage system where it's accessible if needed. That long-term storage is the archive. Design documents, software builds and images are just a few of the data types that are often relegated to archives.
Of course, many companies save data to comply with government, industry or self-imposed regulations. There's a great deal of concern with established regulations, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), but the recent changes to the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure (FRCP) state that anyone possibly subject to a future court proceeding has to be able to produce the required information. This impacts a much broader audience than SOX or other compliance regulations because anyone who might be involved in litigation must take appropriate steps to protect and preserve their data.
Still, if you determine that a piece of data has no possible future value or bearing on future litigation, there is no reason to archive it -- you can delete it. Data that can be reproduced or regenerated may not need to be archived. Another school of thought takes a more conservative approach and keeps every piece of data.
Go back to the beginning of the File Archiving FAQ Guide.