Maksym Yemelyanov - Fotolia

Q
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What are good version retention objectives for archives?

Recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives for backups are well understood, but what about version retention objectives for archives?

I think the challenge with archive is that people think of it as this place where moldy, dusty data goes where they'll never have to mess with it again. That's not always the case today. Archive data can sit idle for a long period of time but then when it becomes active, it becomes very active and may need to be recovered fairly quickly.

So, there's a couple of things we look at there. First, how long do we have to retain that data? And second, how many copies do I need to keep? I'm a believer in trying to establish a forever retention strategy if possible. And you should keep two copies, not 20 like we see in many environments. You just need one copy in the primary data center and one at the disaster recovery site. Last, it is important to change the discussion from "how old is this data?" to "how quickly can I get it if I need to recover it?"

In most cases, it is fine if archive data recovery takes a few hours. So, it doesn't need to be on the fastest disk system. In many cases, tape is absolutely fine for archive.

And how do you define geographic objectives with DR?

"GRO" or geographic recovery objective refers to a problem that we see in many disaster recovery plans. Many organizations don't put enough distance between their primary site and their DR site.

In fact, I recently spoke with a very large organization and their DR site was literally 14 miles away from their primary site. It was in the same floodplain, it was in the same power grid -- all bad.

FEMA actually has recovery zones on their website. We recommend that your DR site should be at least two zones away. In other words, not in your zone and not a zone you're connected to. That should protect you from most regional disasters.

Next Steps

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