How To Shrink Your Data Storage Footprint

Here are data management best practices and tools that help clear the clutter.

Jim O'Reilly

February 21, 2017

7 Slides

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I remember a few years ago parsing through all the files on a NAS box. I was amazed at all the duplicate files, but a bit more investigation revealed that we had a mix of near duplicates in with the genuine replicas. All had the same name, so it was hard to tell the valid files from the trash. I asked around and the responses I got were mostly along the lines of, “Why are we keeping that? No one uses it!”

This begs the question: Do we throw any data away any more? Laws and regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and HIPAA stipulate that certain data should be kept safe and encrypted. The result is that data subject to the law tends to be kept carefully forever, but then, so does most of the rest of our data, too.

Storing all this data isn’t cheap. Even on Google Nearline or Amazon Glacier, there is cost associated with all of the data, its backups and replicas. In-house, we go through the ritual of moving cold data off primary storage to bulk disk drives, and then on into the cloud, in almost a mindless manner.

Excuses include “Storage is really cheap in the cloud,” and “It’s better to keep everything, just in case” to “Cleaning up data is expensive” or too complicated. Organizations often evoke big data as another reason for their data stockpiling, since there may be nuggets of gold in all that data sludge. The reality though is that most cold, old data is just that: old and essentially useless.

As I found with the NAS server, analyzing a big pile of old files is not easy. Data owners are often no longer with the company. Even if they were, remembering what an old file is all about is often impossible. The relationship between versions of files is hard to recreate, especially for desktop data from departmental users. In fact, it’s mainly a glorious waste of time. Old data is just a safety blanket!

So how can companies go about reducing their data storage footprint? Continue on to learn about some data management best practices and tools that can help.

(Image: kentoh/Shutterstock)

About the Author(s)

Jim O'Reilly


Jim O'Reilly was Vice President of Engineering at Germane Systems, where he created ruggedized servers and storage for the US submarine fleet. He has also held senior management positions at SGI/Rackable and Verari; was CEO at startups Scalant and CDS; headed operations at PC Brand and Metalithic; and led major divisions of Memorex-Telex and NCR, where his team developed the first SCSI ASIC, now in the Smithsonian. Jim is currently a consultant focused on storage and cloud computing.

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