Q

Off site data storage tips

Want to know how far off site off site data storage facilities should be located? Data storage expert Greg Schulz offers some helpful tips.

Are there any storage tips or general guidelines to follow for choosing an off site data storage location? How far off site should it be located?
There are many different schools of thought and opinion when it comes to determining how far away an off site data storage (on-line hot or off-line cold) facility should be located. Some general storage tips to help determine this include:
  • What are the applicable threat-risks that you are looking to protect your business from, including fire, flood, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, electrical power outages or acts of man? For example, if your primary threat is loss of access to an intact and functioning facility, fire or tornado, a distance measured in several km for your off site data storage facility may be applicable. However, if you have regional or metropolitan concerns including power blackouts, major floods or earthquakes, then further distances would be applicable.
  • Is your primary facility near a high risk area? Examples include under a landing or take off path of a major airport, next to an oil or gas refinery, adjacent to a prominent landmark or other potential threat. In general, what is the applicable threat to your business where your systems and data are housed?
  • How far away do you need to have your data based upon applicable industry or regulatory requirements and best practices? For example, do you have informal guidelines that dictate that your data must be at least 20km away? Consider what loss of accessibility to an intact facility or place of business due to flood, road closures, labor disruption or other issues would have on your facility.
  • How well do you need to be isolated from electrical power or other utility outages? If you are susceptible to electrical power outages, then you will want your off site data storage facility to be far enough away to isolate yourself from a major electrical power grid failure. It should go without saying that your primary site should have redundant power feeds from different sources to isolate your data from localized outages.
  • What are the recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) for your applications and at what distance can you meet those objectives? Are you planning to have a cold-site, data storage facility, or an active hot site that replicates your primary site too?

This is far from an exhaustive list; however, it should give you a few things to think about and consider. The more important and critical your data, the more attention to detail you will need to keep in mind and perhaps you may even need a primary, secondary and tertiary site for off site data storage and operations.

This was first published in August 2006

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