December 2, 2021

ROT 101: How to Manage Redundant or Outdated Data in Your Business

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Mark Rowan

As the amount of data stored by organizations expands year after year, new issues develop in terms of data security and data storage system governance. It’s an unavoidable problem faced by virtually all businesses that collect or generate data.

Which files belong to whom? What percentage of business storage is taken up by whose files? Which files are no longer in use? How many copies of a file are there, and where are they? Are there any old files on your systems that hold sensitive data?

These concerns necessitate current responses to guarantee that business, regulatory, and data security requirements are handled efficiently and effectively. However, because of the massive quantity of data that businesses retain, meeting these objectives takes a significant amount of time and effort. And much of that data is obsolete and useless, thus creating data “glut”.

This type of redundant, outdated, and trivial information has a well-known acronym known as “ROT.” ROT data may be found in most organizations’ shared servers, on staff devices, and even in the cloud. It's a worthwhile idea to investigate if you might save thousands or even millions of dollars each year by cleaning up ROT data, and to what extent you may lower the risk of data breach within the organization.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what ROT data is, what contributes to data “glut”, why management of ROT data is vital, and how to start the process of organizing and managing this type of data. Let’s start by breaking down what exactly ROT data is.

ROT 101: How to Manage Redundant or Outdated Data in Your Business

What is ROT Data?

ROT stands for Redundant, Obsolete, or Trivial data. In other words, it's data that's either no longer relevant (if it ever was) or has little to no value to the company that's keeping it.

Many factors contribute to ROT data “glut” or excessive storage and generation of such data. Employees keeping personal files on company storage, data hoarding, poor data management, and uncertainty about whether files can be properly destroyed all contribute to data glut. This is a situation in which a company's processes and server performance are slowed by its own storage.

Just as well, on average, at least 25-30% of an organization's entire unstructured data is redundant, outmoded, or inconsequential. As a result, ROT data is the major source of data overload and the most difficult problem to solve in data management.

Duplicate email attachments, out-of-date documents, expired server session cookies, and other ROT data are examples. ROT data may be discovered on PCs, mobile devices, on-premise, and cloud servers ,among other places.

Let’s break down the three main types of ROT data.

  1. Redundant Data - Data that has copies kept in several locations, whether on a separate system totally or inside the system, is referred to as redundant data. Intranet systems can include a lot of duplicate information.
  2. Obsolete Data - Obsolete data is information that is no longer accurate or useful, as the term implies. It's possible that the material has been replaced by newer information.
  3. Trivial Data - Information that isn't required to be stored is referred to as trivial data. It's information that's of no use to the company and might be readily erased without affecting operations.
Why Must ROT Data Be Managed? Can’t It Just Be Deleted?

There are many reasons why ROT data can be problematic for organizations. The more data you have in your databases and file servers, the more difficult it is to safeguard it. By removing the clutter, you'll be able to see what data you have and prioritize your security efforts. Devoting time and money to eradicating ROT data may help with a variety of information management issues, such as the following:

  • Productivity problems: Employees squander time looking for the relevant data among the clutter, or rectifying work they've already completed using outdated data, resulting in productivity losses.
  • Inadequate and slow data discovery scans: During risk assessment and legal discovery processes, rapid information retrieval is critical. The identification of relevant and regulated data is slowed by ROT data.
  • Data security risks: Because ROT files are frequently left undisturbed for long periods of time, their permissions are frequently out of current or based on outdated file security rules. As a result, there's a shockingly high probability that one of them may be accessed by dormant user accounts, making them vulnerable to data breaches.
  • Misinformation and poor business decisions: Making judgments based on faulty data analysis might lead to negative organizational consequences.
  • High storage costs:The expense of data management is directly proportional to the amount of data kept.
  • Legal dangers: Sorting through ROT data limits your capacity to react to legal e-discovery requests quickly and properly.
  • Risks of noncompliance: Regulations such as the GDPR and the CCPA demand meticulous tracking and disposal of customers' personally identifiable information (PII),as well as a privacy policy that explains how you gather, keep, and dispose of consumer data. The main bills that govern data privacy for organizations include Bill C-64 and Bill C-11 in Canada.

Would it be easier to just delete ROT data? Of course. Identifying and deleting some ROT can significantly reduce data clutter. However, certain regulatory laws require organizations to keep ROT data, especially customer data, safeguarded for a certain amount of time. This is why sensitive data management is so important, regardless of an organization’s data volume or niche.

How to Manage ROT Data

Now that we understand what ROT data is and why managing such data is vital, let’s explore how to actually manage ROT data. 

Your first thought may be to invest in more data storage. However, purchasing additional storage devices is not the answer to ROT data glut. Start with revising data retention requirements and developing new methods to delete superfluous data. From there, a holistic approach to ROT data management is required. Data security and organizational efficiency are improved by removing outdated, duplicate, and non-business files. However, ensure that ROT data that must be stored for a certain amount of time is not deleted.

Tips for Managing ROT Data

Depending on your unique organizational needs and the type of ROT data you need to manage, your approach to managing ROT data may vary. However, all of these tips could prove beneficial for your own sensitive data management process:

  • Make a taxonomy for your data that works. Establish a common set of definitions, labels, and groups with key stakeholders so you can easily grasp what data you have.
  • Establish a policy for handling ROT data as well as a set of best practices. Establish methods for deleting obsolete records and irrelevant data, for example.
  • For each category of information, establish a single source of truth (SSOT). This will reduce the amount of versioning-related misunderstanding. The version stored at the SSOT location should always be the "correct" one.
  • Storage policies should be updated. Create bespoke data retention policies based on the types of data you generate and how long you keep it. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution, as organizational demands evolve with time. Storage policies that are up to date increase information governance and reduce ROT data at its source.
  • In your storage environment, look for ROT files. Use a file analysis solution to find non-business files, files that have been untouched for a long time, duplicate copies, and other unwanted files.
  • To handle garbage files, create workflows. Configure policy-based archiving and trash file elimination. This will free up disk space, increase storage device performance, and guarantee that storage is available at all times.
  • Repetition is necessary. The handling of ROT data is a constant effort. CISOs must examine data repositories for useless material on a regular basis and respond by deleting or relocating it to backup storage systems.
  • Invest in data security software and applications. Such software can help you avoid data overload by locating, managing, and reporting on ROT data in your storage system.

Regardless of whatever solutions you choose to manage your redundant, outdated, or insignificant data, the process should be continuous, codified, and planned. Failure to keep up with ROT data will raise storage and maintenance expenses, put your data in jeopardy, make data migration more difficult, lower productivity, distort analytical procedures, and make it more difficult to comply with data privacy rules.

While all of the tips we’ve mentioned in this guide for ROT data management are useful, nothing is quite as efficient as leaving the process of data management in the hands of professional data analysts with the tools needed to automate much of the process, such as the team at Data Sentinel.

At Data Sentinel, our goal is to help businesses automate sensitive data management. Including the processes related to ROT data discovery and remediation. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our products and solutions, and how our technology can drastically improve how your business deals with sensitive data management.

December 2, 2021

ROT 101: How to Manage Redundant or Outdated Data in Your Business

Date:
Hosted By:
Register Now

As the amount of data stored by organizations expands year after year, new issues develop in terms of data security and data storage system governance. It’s an unavoidable problem faced by virtually all businesses that collect or generate data.

Which files belong to whom? What percentage of business storage is taken up by whose files? Which files are no longer in use? How many copies of a file are there, and where are they? Are there any old files on your systems that hold sensitive data?

These concerns necessitate current responses to guarantee that business, regulatory, and data security requirements are handled efficiently and effectively. However, because of the massive quantity of data that businesses retain, meeting these objectives takes a significant amount of time and effort. And much of that data is obsolete and useless, thus creating data “glut”.

This type of redundant, outdated, and trivial information has a well-known acronym known as “ROT.” ROT data may be found in most organizations’ shared servers, on staff devices, and even in the cloud. It's a worthwhile idea to investigate if you might save thousands or even millions of dollars each year by cleaning up ROT data, and to what extent you may lower the risk of data breach within the organization.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what ROT data is, what contributes to data “glut”, why management of ROT data is vital, and how to start the process of organizing and managing this type of data. Let’s start by breaking down what exactly ROT data is.

ROT 101: How to Manage Redundant or Outdated Data in Your Business

What is ROT Data?

ROT stands for Redundant, Obsolete, or Trivial data. In other words, it's data that's either no longer relevant (if it ever was) or has little to no value to the company that's keeping it.

Many factors contribute to ROT data “glut” or excessive storage and generation of such data. Employees keeping personal files on company storage, data hoarding, poor data management, and uncertainty about whether files can be properly destroyed all contribute to data glut. This is a situation in which a company's processes and server performance are slowed by its own storage.

Just as well, on average, at least 25-30% of an organization's entire unstructured data is redundant, outmoded, or inconsequential. As a result, ROT data is the major source of data overload and the most difficult problem to solve in data management.

Duplicate email attachments, out-of-date documents, expired server session cookies, and other ROT data are examples. ROT data may be discovered on PCs, mobile devices, on-premise, and cloud servers ,among other places.

Let’s break down the three main types of ROT data.

  1. Redundant Data - Data that has copies kept in several locations, whether on a separate system totally or inside the system, is referred to as redundant data. Intranet systems can include a lot of duplicate information.
  2. Obsolete Data - Obsolete data is information that is no longer accurate or useful, as the term implies. It's possible that the material has been replaced by newer information.
  3. Trivial Data - Information that isn't required to be stored is referred to as trivial data. It's information that's of no use to the company and might be readily erased without affecting operations.
Why Must ROT Data Be Managed? Can’t It Just Be Deleted?

There are many reasons why ROT data can be problematic for organizations. The more data you have in your databases and file servers, the more difficult it is to safeguard it. By removing the clutter, you'll be able to see what data you have and prioritize your security efforts. Devoting time and money to eradicating ROT data may help with a variety of information management issues, such as the following:

  • Productivity problems: Employees squander time looking for the relevant data among the clutter, or rectifying work they've already completed using outdated data, resulting in productivity losses.
  • Inadequate and slow data discovery scans: During risk assessment and legal discovery processes, rapid information retrieval is critical. The identification of relevant and regulated data is slowed by ROT data.
  • Data security risks: Because ROT files are frequently left undisturbed for long periods of time, their permissions are frequently out of current or based on outdated file security rules. As a result, there's a shockingly high probability that one of them may be accessed by dormant user accounts, making them vulnerable to data breaches.
  • Misinformation and poor business decisions: Making judgments based on faulty data analysis might lead to negative organizational consequences.
  • High storage costs:The expense of data management is directly proportional to the amount of data kept.
  • Legal dangers: Sorting through ROT data limits your capacity to react to legal e-discovery requests quickly and properly.
  • Risks of noncompliance: Regulations such as the GDPR and the CCPA demand meticulous tracking and disposal of customers' personally identifiable information (PII),as well as a privacy policy that explains how you gather, keep, and dispose of consumer data. The main bills that govern data privacy for organizations include Bill C-64 and Bill C-11 in Canada.

Would it be easier to just delete ROT data? Of course. Identifying and deleting some ROT can significantly reduce data clutter. However, certain regulatory laws require organizations to keep ROT data, especially customer data, safeguarded for a certain amount of time. This is why sensitive data management is so important, regardless of an organization’s data volume or niche.

How to Manage ROT Data

Now that we understand what ROT data is and why managing such data is vital, let’s explore how to actually manage ROT data. 

Your first thought may be to invest in more data storage. However, purchasing additional storage devices is not the answer to ROT data glut. Start with revising data retention requirements and developing new methods to delete superfluous data. From there, a holistic approach to ROT data management is required. Data security and organizational efficiency are improved by removing outdated, duplicate, and non-business files. However, ensure that ROT data that must be stored for a certain amount of time is not deleted.

Tips for Managing ROT Data

Depending on your unique organizational needs and the type of ROT data you need to manage, your approach to managing ROT data may vary. However, all of these tips could prove beneficial for your own sensitive data management process:

  • Make a taxonomy for your data that works. Establish a common set of definitions, labels, and groups with key stakeholders so you can easily grasp what data you have.
  • Establish a policy for handling ROT data as well as a set of best practices. Establish methods for deleting obsolete records and irrelevant data, for example.
  • For each category of information, establish a single source of truth (SSOT). This will reduce the amount of versioning-related misunderstanding. The version stored at the SSOT location should always be the "correct" one.
  • Storage policies should be updated. Create bespoke data retention policies based on the types of data you generate and how long you keep it. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution, as organizational demands evolve with time. Storage policies that are up to date increase information governance and reduce ROT data at its source.
  • In your storage environment, look for ROT files. Use a file analysis solution to find non-business files, files that have been untouched for a long time, duplicate copies, and other unwanted files.
  • To handle garbage files, create workflows. Configure policy-based archiving and trash file elimination. This will free up disk space, increase storage device performance, and guarantee that storage is available at all times.
  • Repetition is necessary. The handling of ROT data is a constant effort. CISOs must examine data repositories for useless material on a regular basis and respond by deleting or relocating it to backup storage systems.
  • Invest in data security software and applications. Such software can help you avoid data overload by locating, managing, and reporting on ROT data in your storage system.

Regardless of whatever solutions you choose to manage your redundant, outdated, or insignificant data, the process should be continuous, codified, and planned. Failure to keep up with ROT data will raise storage and maintenance expenses, put your data in jeopardy, make data migration more difficult, lower productivity, distort analytical procedures, and make it more difficult to comply with data privacy rules.

While all of the tips we’ve mentioned in this guide for ROT data management are useful, nothing is quite as efficient as leaving the process of data management in the hands of professional data analysts with the tools needed to automate much of the process, such as the team at Data Sentinel.

At Data Sentinel, our goal is to help businesses automate sensitive data management. Including the processes related to ROT data discovery and remediation. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our products and solutions, and how our technology can drastically improve how your business deals with sensitive data management.

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