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What is a business if not a collection of data? Today, everything is information.
Organizations are increasingly upgrading their digital capabilities too. In 2020, it was reported that the future of banking would be determined by tech, something we’ve seen materialize in the three years since those predictions. There’s no turning back now.
We’d like to say that the more dependent firms become on tech, the more pressing the need for efficient data management tendencies. However, that sentiment doesn’t illustrate the full picture. Even brick-and-mortar SMEs need to manage their information carefully. It only takes one misplaced or stolen file to lay a firm low.
Archiving sensitive company information is essential, regardless of the shape and size of your firm. There’s no room for mismanagement, and your company data must be stored safely and securely. Here are the best ways to go about that crucial task.
1. Begin with Training
As you might expect, archiving data is a collective effort. Every employee will be handling company information in one way or another.
Consequently, your firm’s data management practices only need one weak link to buckle and collapse like a house of cards. Training ensures that your employees are equipped for these responsibilities and that they’re all as committed and capable as each other when archiving data.
Of course, training is a broad term. We know of at least three specific areas to delve into and learn more about. They are:
- The Utilization of Data Archival Systems – cloud-based systems are most commonly used today, but there are other varieties as well. There are solid-state drives, hard disk drives, magnetic tape archives for storing larger volumes of data, and email and database-centric archiving systems. Some will be relevant, others won’t be, depending on your processes, so tailor training accordingly.
- The ability to Classify Data – Not all data is equal. Giving everything the same level of importance will lead to messy archival processes. Therefore, your workers should be trained to classify data more acutely. Classification training should cover content like confidentiality, company regulations, data protection laws, and the fallout that can occur from data breaches.
- The Awareness of Retention and Retrieval Policies – There are laws around data to consider. However, there can be flexibility in other areas like retention, and many firms make their own judgements here. Training should cover your firm’s specific approach to retention, outlining things like disposal processes, record-keeping, and backup procedures.
It’s worth remembering that managers shouldn’t be exempt from learning curves either, so don’t presume only the underlings need to learn about archiving data efficiently. Even the pros should take a refresher course once in a while. Ultimately, everyone must be on the same page.
2. Note Compression Tools
Data shouldn’t always be archived in its original formatting. If you’re willing to make a few crucial amendments to your company information, it can be far easier and safer to store.
A PDF compressor tool is highly useful for archiving company documents. First, the obvious benefit is that your data can have smaller file sizes, taking up less storage space and potentially reducing infrastructure costs. If you’re moving large volumes of data around, things are also easier from a logistics standpoint.
There are other advantages when compressing pdf files. Though you can reduce file sizes, you can also retain the original file’s quality, sacrificing nothing in the process. Data transfers can also be conducted faster, hastening your archiving efforts considerably.
For these solutions to work effectively, you’ll need to work with PDF compress experts keen to help you get things done better, faster, and smarter. PDF compressor tools should be free to use, and they should be able to re-encode heavy images and remove repetitive patterns in a flash. You should feel as if you can trust the tools wholeheartedly when you’re using them.
3. Optimize Metadata
Archiving data isn’t always like pressing a button. There needs to be a sense of structure to these efforts, and that’s what the use of metadata largely encapsulates.
In its simplest terms, metadata allows you to better organize your archived data. It sifts through all the information and structures them into logical categories like tags, titles, keywords, and descriptions. You may have heard the term ‘metadata’ in content marketing circles, and its applications are similar in principle when archiving data.
You can do more with metadata in your firm’s information archives. For instance, integrating hashes and checksums into the metadata can help you detect data loss and corruption and ensure archived files’ integrity. You may also wish to improve the searchability of your archived data by including more administrative information, like the versions of files and any dependencies it has on larger datasets.
We’ve already referenced that archiving data can be about changing needs, whether it’s rules and regulations or evolving business objectives. These shifting landscapes mean you also need to routinely review your approach to the metadata when archiving data, ensuring it’s as fully optimized as possible. Additionally, you may wish to use metadata management tools that have automation capabilities, which can help you save time and feel less stressed about these varying duties.
4. Maintain Data Integrity
The context of data can change over time. The quality and relevancy of the information, and its range of useful applications, can be subject to constant evolution. Other factors can influence its integrity, too.
Start this process by comparing copies of archived data against original sources to ensure consistency. You can also use tools like checksums as error-checking codes to identify faults. Obsolete file formats will need to be identified and converted, and you should also have your security software scan for bugs in whatever archival software you’re using too.
Preventing bit rot should also be a priority. When we say bit rot, we’re referring to data that’s become unusable over time due to corruption. Power fluctuations and electromagnetic can trigger these anomalies, so it’s important to be mindful of those. If you can occasionally refresh the media, you use to archive data, that can help.
A good way to avoid many of these problems is to diversify your storage efforts. We recommend that you archive copies of your data off-site with a third party that can professionally manage and secure your firm’s information. You’ll be able to access the data remotely via the cloud and receive key assurances that it’s all safe and secure.
5. Establish Naming Conventions
We all know that workers sometimes get confused and send emails to the wrong people, accidentally save over important files, or suffer countless other mistakes. While nobody is above human error, some of these gaffes can be avoided with naming conventions for data.
Metadata can be lengthy, but the names of files should be the opposite where possible. Keep things concise for easier readability so that better management practices follow. Depending on your processes, version numbers and dates may need to be included, but try to keep things concise nevertheless.
The names you choose should provide clarity. Ambiguous terms and special characters should generally be avoided. Remember, people may use search tools to find your archived data. If they miss one of these phrasings or characters they’re unfamiliar with, they may be unable to find the information alone.
Well-written guidelines should explain these naming conventions in detail too. It can also be part of training practices, as mentioned earlier in this article. Everybody needs to be on board with naming conventions for these strategies to be viable.