Eliminate the data packrat mentality

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Millions of companies are collecting old and unnecessary data. And the data they are storing could put their organizations at risk, increase storage costs, and sour their analysis.

If you’ve ever been to a hoarder’s house, you’re likely to find endless heaps of seemingly useless items, such as newspapers, books, photographs, and clothes. For the owner, however, these things are invaluable.

Now apply the same lens to the data on your computer. Could your organization be a data pack rat?

Psychology today Says people save for two reasons: they feel they have no permission to get rid of something or can’t imagine how to live without it. Those reasons could easily be attributed to the fact that multiple versions of the same letter, past reports, or older spreadsheets were stored on your computer.

Most of us store data because we don’t know what to do with it. Often, we don’t even know what’s in the data from three, five or even 10 years ago.

Collecting and storing data over time increases the risk to organizations during ransomware attacks and creates what IT experts call “dark data”.

Gartner defines dark data as “information assets that organizations collect, process and store during business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes.” This data interferes with the integrity of data analytics and can compromise your data security.

Dark files are usually temporary, created by programs, or work-in-progress files that are discarded when the work is completed. Some of these files may contain sensitive information.

Possibly missed insights

Dark data can slip into your analysis in the form of files or hidden folders. It can also get lost in the computer system and merge with the rest of the data. If you inadvertently use inaccurate data, you will get misleading results, sabotage your analysis and lose insights when using Business Intelligence (BI) tools.

Information hidden in the dark can block you from the entire data landscape of your organization. This can make it difficult for your company to get a real understanding of how much data the organization actually has and what that data contains.

These dark files may contain unchangeable information about your internal processes, which you can use to improve your productivity. Others may include customer information that you can use to improve your customer service. Or it may expose you to liability if personal data is compromised.

If there is a dark file that contains more up-to-date information or more accurate information than what you are feeding into your Business Intelligence tools, you can make decisions based on false pretenses.

Highlight dark data and dark files

Data audits or data evaluations can help shed light on dark data and expose potential risks to your organization. This process scans your entire file system and detects your company’s deepest cravings. The assessment can also read the data in the unstructured files and disclose their contents.

Once opened, you can categorize that data and decide whether you want to delete your dark files or move them to a more appropriate location. For example, less important data can be transferred to a more affordable storage solution, or sensitive data can be recorded and placed in a more secure location that can be more easily found and accessed.

You can identify unneeded files, obsolete files, and trash data to gain control over your information and add value to your organization. Like using a metal detector on the beach, you will find plenty of junk, although you may find some buried treasure that you can use to improve your organization.

By eliminating data pack mice Mind you, you can avoid backlogs in data management and limit unstructured data that can be subjected to ransomware attacks by providing a more efficient and secure data environment.

Adrian Nap is the CEO and founder of Aparvi

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