Archival Storage and Data Protection
Recent legislation and new legal requirements have made protecting archival data more critical than ever before. Failure to do so could result in costly litigation or even charges of criminal negligence for the executives responsible for data protection. Whether that information resides on paper documents, microfilm, data tapes or another media type, the retention schedules must be enforced and the data must be protected.
The retention requirement for archival medical records is often beyond the lifespan of the patient, so this information must be protected for decades. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the driving force behind the need to maintain not just the confidentiality of medical records, but the integrity of the information. Because most new medical records are in digital format, such as x-rays and physicians' notes, the data storage methods employed must be of the highest quality. Loss of data tapes or other media that was not properly protected can mean dire consequences for the patient—and the organization responsible for the protection of those active or archival records.
The new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, especially Rule 26, require information requested in the discovery process of a civil suit to be produced in a timely fashion. If the information is in electronic format, the history of the production and storage of the archival data must be documented and proven. Failure to protect and supply the data that is requested by the opposing party can result in a summary judgment against the organization that fails to protect their data.
In addition to the risk of a catastrophic fire, computer tape and other media are vulnerable to data loss due to a wide range of threats. For example, continually changing temperature and humidity, exposure to dust and corrosive elements, and other environmental threats are common in the workplace. Unknown magnetic fields and electrical interference in the media storage area are prevalent. All of these elements combine to damage or destroy data archives in a long-term storage environment. Concrete vaults are notorious for the mold and mildew that infect vital records. In contrast, media protected by a magnetically shielded Firelock® vault, with the proper temperature and humidity controls and air filtration, can be stored up to three times longer without loss of data integrity. The R33 insulation rating and dry ceramic fiber core of Firelock® panels help maintain proper climate control for all types of media storage.
For organizations without enough data tapes or other media to require their own fireproof vault, there is a network of offsite data storage companies that protect their clients' media in Firelock® vaults. The Secure Media Vault Associates (SMVA) network provides the highest level of data protection and climate control in their fireproof data vaults. Many organizations have the best of both worlds by operating their own Firelock® vaults and also utilizing the offsite media storage services of the SMVA network.