Are We Keeping Too Much Data?


The amount of data businesses and organisations keep these days is frankly huge. Pen and paper, notebooks and ‘post-its’ have all been superseded by electronic means, and every note and every image we go through day-to-day is stored somewhere on a network, either on the premises or in the cloud, waiting to one day be called back into action. All those documents and images from the last ten years are still sitting pretty on a server somewhere and  goodness knows how much data is lying around on flash memory sticks in drawers and jackets.

Apart from the obvious, the biggest difference between digital data storage and the old paper alternative is how we deal with it once it’s outlived its necessity. In the past, we used shredders, with reams and reams of paper shredded to avoid it being used by others or cluttering up the workspace. Perhaps we should be doing the same with our data now; after all digital data storage is an expensive business. So, what’s the answer?

Duplicate files

One of the main causes of burgeoning data archives is the number of duplicate files stored on a single hard-drive or server at any one time. A cursory search through an office server or workstation will quickly throw up incidences of duplicate files; sometimes reaching into double or even triple figures. As files and data are passed around, edited, reused, saved and archived; they tend to leave more than one duplicate in their wake. Before long a document or image has several clones of itself and most of these will eventually end up on a server or shared storage facility.

There are many utilities available to hunt down and delete these offending items and many server administrators will have these or at least be aware of them. If space is becoming a problem, it might now be time to purge the imposter files and free up that valuable space.

Deleting unnecessary data

Deleting files can also free up some valuable space on a server. Whenever a program makes a change, either to itself or to another program or installation, the files it uses to back up original data or to make the changes to itself or the system are all saved and stored in various temporary folders. Over time this builds up and soon kilobytes turn into megabytes and those megabytes turn into gigabytes. Again, it’s a question of purging the useless files and retrieving that valuable storage space.

File Compression

Compressing necessary files can also free up some much-needed digital real estate. There are many files that you simply won’t want to get rid of; either because they are critical to your business or critical to the smooth running of the server and IT infrastructure. Administrators should be able to pick out which data is ripe for compression and therefore free up another few gigabytes of space.

So, it’s a question of prioritising the data, purging what is no longer needed and compressing the files that are needed but are not accessed on a daily basis. With these points in mind, a lot of space can be freed up andsome considerable expense spared,


  • Show Comments

  • Martin Burke

    It always amazes me that people spend £ millions protecting their data during its life and then want to spend nothing making sure its destroyed properly at the end of its life. If you are reading this then you should be using a CESG/NSCS approved secure IT disposal company or at the very least an ADISA accredited IT disposal company. It doesn’t cost much to do it proper. Most of the time you will get revenue back

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