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Archiving for Success – A Shopping Guide

You are a storage administrator and you have likely heard about the benefits of moving old and inactive content from primary storage to low-cost storage for the storage savings. You also want to keep your content online where it can be easily accessed for legal discovery. In other words, you want to ‘archive’ old enterprise content.

Before you begin to shop around with vendors, it is important to consider these five key areas:

1. What content do you want to archive?

Like most organizations, you have many types of active content. One widely used practice is to categorize data as being structured or unstructured. Structured data refers to data contained in a structured database, such as Oracle or Microsoft SQL. Specialized archive tools exist for structured information. Unstructured information refers to file shares, email and other messaging applications. The leading archiving applications support email, instant messaging, files and Microsoft SharePoint. Be sure to ask any vendor you consider what content types they support.

2. How well does the archive storage scale?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you select an archive application is to ignore how it will scale after two or more years of archiving. Depending on the size of your organizations, you can expect TB’s of archive content to accumulate. How the archive is designed with respect to its index, storage containers, deduplication and compression will go a long way to determine how well it performs after multiple years of storage. Consider the architecture and design of the archive, but better yet speak with customers who have long-term experience with the archive application.

3. How does the archive impact end users?

If you are planning to archive email and files consider the end user experience after the content is archived. Can users continue to access their archived email via Outlook in the example of Microsoft Exchange? Can they access archived email via Outlook Web Access (OWA) or from a mobile device? If files are archived, can they be recalled via a shortcut or link? Carefully identify all the means that end users connect with their email and files and ask each vendor to demonstrate how they perform.

4. How well does the archive perform for eDiscovery?

An important use of archiving is to search its content for legal discovery. Certainly you want to test the eDiscovery application for its ease-of-use and feature/functions. But it is just as important to check the eDiscovery performance when searching large volumes of archive data. It is common for eDiscovery searches to take hours or days when searching TB’s of archive data. This is another area where it is worth your time to check with a customer reference who has long-term experience using the eDiscovery search tool.

5. How well does the archive perform deletion?

Archive applications all do a fine job of collecting information, but it is just as important to cleanup old data. This important feature is often overlooked when shopping for archiving. Disposition rules are configurable to run per a schedule you define. Once the data is marked for deletion, the underlying storage must respond by recovering disk space and making it useable to new archive content. The better archive applications have processes to deal with disk fragmentation and cleanup.


Archiving is a valuable application that can deliver multiple benefits in your organization. The five tips here are just a few of the important areas to consider when shopping for an archive application. The common thread of all five is archive storage growth and how it impacts archive performance. Here customers references are very valuable in your overall decision making process.


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