Data Lifecycle Management: Optimizing Data Storage, Usage, and Disposal

The use of data worldwide for business and recreation has exploded in the last decade, with an estimated 328.77 million terabytes of data created every single day globally. In 2024, experts predict that nearly 120 zettabytes of new data will be created.

All of this data creation has also created a substantial storage problem for hundreds of thousands of businesses. After all, all data created must be stored, managed, and secured somewhere. Many business leaders acknowledge that managing their data doesn’t necessarily come cheaply, which has prompted many to take the concept of data lifecycle management very seriously.

Data lifecycle management is the optimization of data throughout its life from initial creation to archival and eventually disposal. Good data lifecycle management is essential to business organization and information access in today’s world. Taking the time to develop a strong management strategy can pay dividends in making data easily available to both employees and customers as well as securing sensitive data in the event of a breach. 

Optimizing Data Storage and Availability

Even if your company isn’t creating 328 million terabytes of data daily, chances are it is still creating a lot of data. Without a data management plan and organizational structure, all that data can become unwieldy and difficult to properly use very quickly. One of the first steps to optimizing data is to create a data management plan that clearly articulates how data should be managed.

The plan should outline everything from how newly collected data should be processed to where usable data is stored for everyone to access to when data should be archived and eventually disposed of. Just because data is available doesn’t necessarily mean it is useful for answering the questions your company is after. Because of this, the plan should also outline what types of data should be collected, analyzed, and shared with the rest of the company in the first place.

One of the best ways to help make large amounts of data easily accessible is to develop naming conventions and stick to them. This will help automatically organize files and everyone will know what to look for. Consistent file structures can make data files easy to find and utilize, especially if it is processed in a consistent fashion that all employees are familiar with.  

Ensuring Data Security and Privacy

The sheer amount of data processed by many companies in a given day or week often exceeds what local servers are capable of handling. Oftentimes, this means that data is stored on the cloud or in remote servers at data centers. These data storage facilities are constantly evolving to manage greater amounts of data in safer and more secure settings. For instance, data centers are evolving into co-location data centers.

The big difference with co-location data centers is that data from various companies may be split up and stored in multiple locations and data from separate companies may be stored in one location. Co-location data centers are actually a more agile solution because they are based upon more flexible networks where data can come from just about anywhere.

These types of cloud-based data storage solutions can also help increase data security and privacy. Co-location data centers, for instance, are designed specifically to provide both physical and cybersecurity to protect data from criminals, natural disasters, and anything else that might come up. The facility typically provides on-site protection, including cooling systems and backup power generators. Likewise, professional cybersecurity protections are typically offered, taking a large burden off of individual companies.

Managing Safe Data Disposal

Sooner or later, data will become irrelevant or be replaced by newer information. Although it might make sense to archive old data for some amount of time, eventually it is going to be necessary to dispose of it. After all, there is no sense in paying for valuable data center space for information that you are no longer utilizing.

When it comes time to dispose of data, there are a number of important steps to take to help make sure that it is fully removed and done so in a secure manner. The data management plan that was developed for the business should also cover policies and procedures associated with data disposal and destruction. This includes timelines for destruction, how both online and physical data should be destroyed, and steps to ensure thorough erasure procedures for online data.

Options for destroying online data include tools like data anonymization which is the process of removing any identifiable information from the data. Other tools include things like cryptoshredding (removing encryption keys so data cannot be accessed) or degaussing (weakening magnetic media so it cannot be easily accessed or viewed).

Final Words

With all the data created by your company every day, it is important to have a plan for its responsible management. Data lifecycle management includes a plan for data from its inception through its usable lifetime and onto its proper disposal. Taking the steps to manage data can lead to more efficient and organized business operations and more private and secure data which benefits everyone. 

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Ainsley Lawrence

Ainsley Lawrence

Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest, interested in better living through education and technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.

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