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Why you need to know what a data retention policy is (and what might happen if you don't)


For most business owners today, it’s common knowledge that critical business data needs to be backed up – not just locally, but in the cloud as well. This redundancy is a critical part of a business continuity plan that will ensure a company quickly recovers and continues to function in the event of a disaster or outage.

What is a data retention policy?

Sometimes, data gets deleted – and you might not even know it. For example, MyITpros had a CPA client that accidentally deleted files that weren’t used every day. When the client finally realized the files were missing and came to us for recovery, it had been almost 90 days since their deletion.

Whether data loss happens due to a natural disaster or to user error, it’s important that companies acknowledge it WILL happen and take the proper precautions. One thing business owners may not realize is that every cloud provider will only back up your data for a finite length of time. How long you have can vary, and if you aren’t aware of the time you’ve got to work with, you could find yourself losing important data that cannot be recovered.

The time span during which you are able to recover data is specified as part of the cloud provider’s data retention policy. Most providers have a really short retention policy – somewhere between 2 weeks and 30 days.

So, you might ask, why don’t I just ask my cloud provider for a longer policy?

Well, first off, a cloud provider’s data retention policy is typically fixed and non-negotiable. Even if it were changeable, you’d run the risk of moving from an affordable cost area into an unaffordable cost area. With the cloud, you are charged according to how much data you’re storing, so the longer your retention policy, the more you store – and the more expensive this becomes. Office 365, for example, has a standard retention policy, and a business that would like a longer policy has to upgrade to the premium service.

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The MyITpros recommendation

MyITpros has always recommended a two-phase backup solution that consists of utilizing both a local server and the cloud. Ideally, you’ll have a long retention policy on the local side of things, and a short one in the cloud. For example, our hosted backup service offers one to two years of local backup retention and two weeks of cloud retention.

Ultimately, this is a much more cost-effective option for business owners. All you have to do is buy a 1-terabyte drive and you’re able to keep backups for years with no expensive recurring monthly cost. In the event of a disaster that affects local backups, we would only be able to recover your last two weeks of data, but almost all businesses only need a copy of their current data to get back in working condition.

The best way to think about local versus cloud backup is that the cloud hosts a current data copy, whereas local backups are historical. The current data copy is your primary concern, which is why it’s safely hosted offsite in the cloud.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened in the case of that CPA firm, we were able to successfully recover the deleted files thanks to our yearlong local data retention policy. Another happy client!

StefanieStefanie D'Aulizio, Marketing Coordinator

The purpose of this blog is to answer the questions you ask! To learn more about MyITpros' hosted and software cloud solutions- check out our cloud services pages! We encourage you to reach out and contact us with any questions- we are always happy to talk all things IT!

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