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Why should I care about data storage?
At the end of 2010, the volume of data stored worldwide totaled 1.2 million petabytes (a petabyte equals 1 million gigabytes), according to the 2010 IDC Digital Universe Study.  That’s a 50 percent increase from the year prior. So how does a business handle, and thrive, in that ever increasing environment of exponentially expanding data? The most effective solution is to implement a mutli-pronged storage strategy that incorporates three tiers; Primary storage; Backup data; Data Recovery.

Tier One: Primary Data Storage
Primary storage system should focus on the data that is most often used on a daily basis. This first line of data storage needs to focus on access speeds more so than capacity. The latest technologies, such as solid-state drives, allow the most effective and fastest access to that critical data. Often businesses can offset the expense for this fast access storage by only purchasing enough storage to keep core business files on those drives.

Tier Two: Backup Storage
Once all of the primary data has been allocated, the business can easily move copies to a tier-two backup layer for added protection. Reliable storage hardware is a must at this tier, however performance isn’t as critical as for the first tier. Software plays a big part at this level by ensuring that data is not duplicated or backed up in multiple locations.

Tier Three: Disaster Recovery
This third storage tier acts as the insurance policy when the unthinkable happens:  a wide-scale disaster that destroys data. Successful disaster recovery involves many steps and careful planning.  Data should be replicated to another site outside of the physical geographic area of the initial location. This guarantees that one event won’t take down both resources. There are many different strategies to a successful DR plan with a variety of technology options such as virtualization.  The goal here is business continuity – putting technology, services and policies in place to ensure that in the event of a disaster, the business can keep functioning at the technology level and that access to data remains available.

So how do you decide what level of protection you need? Take stock of your company data – the critical files your business relies on on a daily basis to operate (think POS systems, accounting files). Then determine how your business would be impacted if you were without those files for 1 hour, 2 hours, a day, forever. The more critical the need, the higher the level of protection.