Evaluating Storage System Security

Storing digital data successfully requires a balance of availability, cost, performance and reliability. With the emergence of low-power, petabyte-scale archival storage and flash-based systems, it is getting increasingly difficult to quantify performance, reliability and space-efficiency trade-offs, especially when coupled with storage-security factors. Storage performance is measured by latency, throughput (bandwidth) and IOPS, with throughput typically presented as overall sustained (long) and peak (short) performance transfer rates, and has a wide variety of non-uniform and unique measurement views when storage security is employed.

Although much work has been done on defining, testing and implementing mechanisms to safeguard data storage in long-term archival storage systems, data security verification in our cloud-based, mobile-driven, virtual containerized software-defined remote storage world, remains a unique and ongoing challenge.

Data security can be ensured in a variety of ways depending on the level of security desired, performance and the level of tolerance of user-inconvenience. Most storage systems rely on encrypting data over the wire or by on-disk data encryption, typically using pre-computed checksums and secure hashes, but with no standardized parameters or protocol for comparison between network or on-disk performance and integrity while in actual use.

In today’s multi-tenant virtualized container storage environments, containers depend on a different approach to virtualization, ie. they are not the hardware of things and how a guest O/S runs on top of all that (cpu/memory/network/storage), as containerization separates users and processes from each other. Multi-tenant security is especially important with the heavy reliance on 24xforever mobile data access from containerized cloud storage, where the top-10 security issues identified in 2015 by OWASP (www.owasp.org) were:

  • Insecure data storage;
  • Weak server-side controls;
  • Insufficient transport layer protection;
  • Client-side injection;
  • Poor authorization & authentication
  • Improper session handling
  • Security decisions via un-trusted inputs
  • Side-channel data leakage
  • Broken cryptography
  • Sensitive information disclosure

Docker, one of the most prevalent deployed container technologies in use today, have just recently addressed container user-security concerns  by separating daily container operation privileges from root privileges on the server host, thus minimizing risk of cross-tenant user namespace and root server/data access.

The Center for Internet Security recently released a series of internet security benchmarks (https://benchmarks.cisecurity.org) resources that, although an independent authority and not a standards body, are based on recommended industry-accepted FISMA, PCI, HIPAA and other system hardening standards to help in mitigating security risk for virtualized container storage infrastructure implementations. Although there are a number of new technology products being introduced specifically focused on unique virtual container data security, what does ‘secure’ really mean in the container-context, ie. secure container access, valid container data, native security of application(s) in the container, etc. ?  Most container data volumes today are tied to a specific virtual server, and if the container fails or is moved from that one server to another, the connection to the data volume is lost (no persistent storage), regardless of employed security parameters. For virtual container data to be truly secure, a fully distributed, reliable, secure read/write container file system must be employed to ensure secure, resilient cloud deployments. Ideally, this can be achieved with a container-native cloud deployment on bare-metal, without the use of virtual machines, making the container’s data lifecycle and application scalability independent of the container’s host, while minimizing the future cost and complexity of provision and management of virtual machine server hosts. That coupled with a hardware-secured, write-once data storage device tier, can truly ensure long-term data storage security irrespective of use or lack of encryption use. Additionally and most importantly, cloud data storage encryption keys, although defined within the facets of the SNIA-based Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) key management interoperability protocol (KMIP) proposed standard, requires better wide-spread adoption, as most crypto key management is either at the specific storage device level with a single point of key-access failure or as a Cloud provider-managed option today…Lose the key(s), lose the data, no matter how securely managed or replicated!

Clients acting in the role of using a data storage interface

Some data storage security basics:

  • Physical security is essential.
  • Develop internal storage security standards (authentication/authorization/access control methods, configuration templates, encryption req’s., security architecture, zoning, etc.).
  • Document, maintain and enforce security policies that cover availability, confidentiality and integrity for storage-specific areas.
  • Ensure basic access controls are in place to determine your policies; change insecure access permissions.
  • Unload unnecessary/not-required storage services related to NFS (mountd, statd, and lockd).
  • Limit and control network-based permissions for network volumes and shares.
  • Ensure proper authentication and credential verification is taking place at one or more layers above storage devices (within the host operating system, applications and databases).
  • Operating system, application and database-centric storage safeguards are inadequate. Consider vendor-specific and/or 3rd.party storage security add-ons.
  • Ensure audit logging is taking place for storage security accountability.
  • Perform semi-annual information audits of physical location inventory and critical information assets.
  • Separate storage administration and maintenance accounts with strong passwords for both accountability and to minimize potential compromised-account damage.
  • Encrypting data in transit helps, but should not be relied on exclusively.
  • Carefully consider software-based storage encryption solutions for critical systems (key mgt.).
  • Evaluate and consider hardware-based drive encryption on the client side.
  • Carefully select a unified encryption key management platform that includes centralized key lifecycle management.
  • Deploy Boolean-based file/stream access control expressions (ACE’s) in container environments to simplify permission granting to users/groups across data files/directories while providing an additional data protection level in multi-tenant environments.
  • Evaluate OASIS and XACML policy-based schemas for secure access control.
  • Evaluate and consider write-once data storage technology for long-term archival storage tiers.

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Bringing Your Data Home

You had your picture archive safe on Flickr, your documents on Dropbox, and a running archive of your devices on Apple’s iCloud. But when something happens to one of these services—like the two-day Dropbox downtime—you wonder if keeping your archives in cloud storage options really is the best way to go about this.  Cloud storage, no matter how respected the provider, is prone to downtime. And having your precious files suddenly disappear is not something you can take with equanimity.

How to Make a Smooth Switch From Cloud Storage to Home Data Archive Options
There’s something about having all that data available at home, in an archive of blu-ray discs or a storage drive; even if all of today’s big web companies go bankrupt, you’ve nothing to worry about. But what is the best data storage, and how to make the switch? Isn’t it too much work to be feasible? Bringing your data home may not be a half hour job, but if you do your planning first, it can be a smooth, easy run and not the huge headache that otherwise threatens.

Your first task is researching which type of storage device to use. Over the years you’ve probably accumulated more than a small amount of data, so your archive solution will need to have high capacity. You also want it to be reliable, long lasting, and you want to be able to add to it periodically. Should you buy a nice high-capacity hard disk drive, or is shelling out the bucks for a state of the art solid state drive the way to go?

The answer is—neither! Hard disk drives and solid state drives are both wonderful in their places, but for a home archive you can’t do better than go with Blu-ray discs. Unlike hard disk drives, which have lots of moving parts that are prone to breakage, a Blu-ray disc is simply a ‘page’ of written information—cold storage, if you will. Unlike solid state drives, where data could deteriorate if not accessed, the data on your Blu-ray discs can be left in a drawer for years and only read when you want what you’ve archived.  

Blu-ray discs are affordable, and they won’t take up much room. Over the years you could accumulate a collection of these discs, which can be stored conveniently in a small cabinet or magazine.

You can buy a quality external Blu-ray burner for a very reasonable price; and if you get it from us at Digistor, it’ll come with a program called Rewind™—software that will make archiving super-easy for Windows or OS X. You’ll need to buy your actual discs as well, of course—a set of 10 25GB or 50GB discs is a good place to start.

When you’ve settled on your storage device and ordered your equipment, the next thing to do is figure out how to reclaim your data from cloud storage. Some cloud storage solutions make export super-easy; from others, it is a pain, but it’s better to do it now then five years from now when you’ll have even more to deal with! If you’re looking at long download times, you may want to set up the process in the evening and let it run overnight. Make sure you have room on your computer for everything you’ll be downloading. If you don’t, setup an external hard disk for temporary storage.  You can always do it in parts, downloading one disc worth of archive material at a time.

Ready? Push that download button, and watch that data materialize out of thin air and come to solid existence on your home PC. When it’s all there, plug in your Blu-ray burner, stick a disc in and open Rewind™. Making a running archive of your data could scarcely be easier.  Choose a name for your archive, select your files, click ‘Archive It!’, and let the burn begin!

Then there is nothing left to do but organize your Blu-ray stash and file it somewhere safe and out of the way. Ideally, you’d make two identical archives, one for home, one for an alternate location. Disaster doesn’t happen often, but when it does , it’s well to be prepared.

For an extra safeguard, you can always keep your files up in your old web repository as well.  Cloud solutions are wonderful in their place; as a way to give you access to specific data from a wide variety of locations. They’re also a wonderful as a quick backup of small files in case of  natural disasters such as tornado and fire.  But for an all-purpose general archive of all your data, pictures, and information, nothing beats a well organized home-based storage center, like your new mini-cabinet of Blu-ray discs.

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Which data storage platform is right for you?

There are more storage options than ever for both consumers and business users, allowing them to customize their solutions as they see fit. The downside to this situation is that an individual can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of available platforms. Each form of data storage was designed for a particular purpose, so blindly choosing one could result in an unsuccessful implementation. That’s why it’s so important that people do their homework and look at the various strengths and applications of each format before investing in a particular option. By identifying the right tool that matches their needs, individuals and organizations alike can get an optimal solution.

 

The cloud
Let’s begin with one of the more buzzworthy platforms out there. Hosted data storage services have a number of things working in their favor. For one, users can theoretically access their files from nearly any location and with just about any device. However, the cloud has a number of concerns that should give trepidation to anyone considering it as a primary method of storing important or unique documents. Security has long been a pervasive fear in this arena, as cybercriminals have many attack verticals with which to exploit vendor vulnerabilities and tap into user data. Another major concern is the reliability of the service providers in this nascent industry. There have been numerous cases of data storage providers experiencing outages that prevent users from accessing their hosted files. In some instances, vendors have even shut down operations with little to no warning, causing headaches for their former clientele.

Solid state drives
Next, let’s take a look at perhaps the most advanced data storage platform on the market today. Interest in SSDs has grown considerably in recent years as the technology’s manufacturing costs have dropped and performance demands across various industries have increased. As Forbes contributor Jim Handy explained, the enterprise SSD market has exploded over the past several years, going from an afterthought to what was a nearly $2 billion industry in 2013.

SSD devices offer many advantages over traditional hard disk drives, particularly regarding read and write speeds. HDDs are hampered by their reliance on physical internal components. Whenever a user attempts to copy or load a stored file, they must wait for these devices’ read/write heads to move into position. The physical limitations of HDDs make them ill-equipped to cope with intensive workloads or critical processes. SSDs, meanwhile, use NAND flash technology to store data onto individual nodes. The removal of moving parts allows these devices to quickly launch important applications or boot up a computer’s operating system.

This feature also makes SSD drives much more durable than HDDs overall. PCWorld contributor Lincoln Spector cautioned that the mechanical nature of HDDs makes them more vulnerable to hardware failure. Read/write heads and magnetic platters can be easily damaged, resulting in gigabytes or terabytes of lost data. Because SSDs don’t have these concerns, they can provide their users with far more peace of mind. This ruggedness has made high-performance SSD drives ideal for intensive industrial operations where working environments can feature extreme conditions and maximum uptime is essential. For the average consumer, however, the level of quality offered by these devices may be unnecessary.

Blu-ray discs
Where can consumers who want the affordability of HDDs but are concerned about their durability turn to? The answer may seem unlikely, but Blu-ray has proven itself to be an invaluable data archiving solution in both consumer and enterprise circumstances. Blu-ray strikes the right balance between scalability, ruggedness and affordability, enabling users to painlessly expand their archiving efforts without ever worrying about the integrity of their data. This way, if a primary storage device like an HDD ever malfunctions or becomes corrupted, a backup will be readily available.

Ultimately, the right storage solution comes down to the individual or organization. Entities with high performance needs and intensive workloads will likely want to incorporate an SSD drive in some capacity. Meanwhile, users running lighter workloads may be content to lean on a regular HDD while taking advantage of a Blu-ray archiving solution. Regardless of the needs of a particular entity, the right combination of devices and platforms will make all the difference in the world.

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Long Lost Star Wars Short Is Finally Found

Fans of the Star Wars series are no doubt excited by the recently released teaser trailer for next year’s blockbuster ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ Yet, white-knuckling through a year wait is nothing compared to the nearly three decades that die-hard fans have anticipated ‘Black Angel,’ Lucas’s famed long-lost short that briefly saw silver screen action in 1980.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas commissioned ‘Black Angel’ to be paired with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in theaters. The 25-minute fantasy epic was the directorial debut of Star Wars‘ pioneering set decorator Roger Christian.

After it screened in cinemas, it suddenly vanished. For years, no copies could be located. The film only existed as a rumored relic in fanboy conversations. Well, until recently.

Christian says that he had an original negative and print copy of the film, which he kept at London’s Boss Film Studios. But the studio went bankrupt in the 1990s while Christian was out of town on a shoot, and ended up tossing out his belongings. When he began writing his upcoming tell-all book Cinema Alchemist, Christian inquired with Fox to see if they had any copies left.

He learned that all of them had been thrown out as well after the film elements’ storage facility, the former UK studio Rank, had shut down in the same decade. The Lucasfilm Archives couldn’t locate their copy either. Christian assumed the original elements of the film were lost forever.

Keeping Your Own Masterpieces Safe & Sound

Few fans aside from film buffs know Lucas himself was a frontrunner in digital cinematography, challenging the supremacy of film in the late ‘90s, with ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’

His seamless blending of digital footage with that captured on film was so successful that Lucas went on to film its sequels completely in digital format, ensuring no other films were lost. However, the archiving technology that could have prevented ‘Black Angel’ from disappearing hadn’t been developed yet.

How Black Angel got lost and then found is still unknown, but its journey is a clear case for shooting digital and careful archiving are necessary to protect your own footage.

To ensure your own films don’t make fans wait as long as ‘Black Angel,’ DIGISTOR offers Professional Video SSD drives, which have up to 480GB of capacity for the most reliable way to capture uncompressed video.  Recording digitally also makes easy access to multiple reliable storage drives essential to capture and early archiving stages of footage. For video crews that use multiple cameras on each shoot, DIGISTOR offer multi-packs of SSDs to handle the even larger amounts of footage.

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Blu-ray continues to wow data center users

Blu-ray has experienced a resurgence in popularity over the past year, thanks largely to its value as a cold storage platform. Organizations with intensive data center demands are turning to optical media as a platform for data archiving. Blu-ray sits head-and-shoulders above other optical formats, providing a combination of capacity, scalability and durability that will meet the needs of many businesses. Facebook has been at the forefront of this movement, taking major strides in the development of data archiving solutions built upon Blu-ray.

Most larger operations are beginning to see their data archiving demands increase dramatically. As more companies rely on data centers to process massive volumes of incoming information, they may struggle to cope with data that no longer serves an immediate purpose but may need to be retrieved at a later date. Perhaps no other business exemplifies this as well as Facebook. TechTarget reported that a single sysadmin must oversee as many as 20,000 servers, on average. Altogether, the social media giant has hundreds of thousands of servers running in its hyperscale data centers.

It’s no wonder that Facebook has so many servers at its disposal when one considers how much information is coursing through its data centers. As CNNMoney explained, the social network’s user base has uploaded more than 400 billion images since the service went live. Those rates have shown no signs of abating, either, as approximately 350 million images are added to Facebook every day.

Blu-ray offers durability, affordability
Many traditional archiving methods are not up to the task of accounting for this surge in data. Often, they cannot provide the degree of scalability or affordability needed to support a large operation. Facebook technicians recognized this problem and subsequently looked to Blu-ray as a viable alternative.

“Blu-ray discs offer a number of advantages versus hard drives,” CNNMoney stated. “For one thing, the discs are more resilient: They’re water- and dust-resistant, and better able to withstand temperature swings. … Because the Blu-ray system doesn’t need to be powered when the discs aren’t in use, it uses 80 percent less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half.”

The ability to reduce energy consumption rates with Blu-ray cannot be overstated. Data archiving is a critical aspect of data center operations, enabling businesses like Facebook to transfer rarely accessed data to less active servers. The problem with keeping these files on active servers is that the associated software must also be running to make them available to users. That would be pretty inefficient considering only 8 percent of images uploaded to Facebook account for its traffic, according to CNNMoney.

If organizations fail to make effective use of their data center assets and unnecessarily leave servers in an active state, they will consume a massive amount of energy. This will have a dramatic effect on a business’s bottom line as it must allocate a large chunk of revenue toward paying utility bills. By embracing Blu-ray as a platform for cold storage, companies can efficiently archive data and lower their energy usage.

Make smart choices when it comes to data storage
With today’s information-focused business environments, no data can simply be discarded, even if it shows no immediate value. At the same time, it’s important that businesses approach data storage needs with an eye for efficiency. Continually running active servers to host unused information will hurt an organization in the long run. Implementing data archiving solutions designed around cold storage will help companies strike the right balance between availability and affordability.

Blu-ray is quickly establishing itself as the ideal platform for these types of archiving efforts. This media format is both extremely durable and easily scalable, helping data center operators to address their cold storage needs without putting the integrity of their data at risk or making further expansion impossible.

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Beginning with Blu-ray: Easiest Blu-ray Drive to Install, and Backwards Compatibility

Blu-ray Drives Don’t Render Your DVDs Obsolete
It’s important to remember that just because you’re upgrading your equipment, doesn’t mean you have to give up your entire library of DVDs. Blu-ray manufacturers have included the ability for their units to play back standard DVDs. You can view discs at standard resolution or have the player upscale the DVD playback signal to match 720p/1080i, or in some cases even 1080p mode, which will be a better match on your high resolution computer monitor or output to a compatible HDTV – so you don’t lose those either.

External Is Easiest
This wouldn’t be at all interesting, storage capacities being what they are, but Blu-ray is the storage methodology of choice for HD and 3D content. The extra detail takes up more virtual storage, but the Blu-ray disc takes no more physical space.

When purchasing a Blu-ray Disc drive for your PC, there are several factors to consider. Perhaps the most important is simply whether to get an internal drive that you fit your PC’s chassis or an external drive you simply plug into any available port.

If you go for an internal drive, you must ensure you have a slot for it in your PC, as well as the physical space to fit it, and the expertise to do so. Whereas, external drives are easier to install, portable, and can be shared between computers.

Backing up data to a BD-R is as easy as burning a CD or DVD. Companies such as Nero, Roxio, CyberLink and DIGISTOR provide the necessary burning software; while modern operating systems like Windows 7 and 8.1 let you add and remove files to and from a BD-RE disc, allowing it to be reused.

DIGISTOR offers a range of simply plug-and-play external Blu-ray drives that are compatible with Windows and Mac OS X. View our products online or contact a representative at 1(800) 816-1886 for help finding a Blu-ray burner that best fits your needs.

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Why Dropbox Isn’t Made For Business Backup

Your business is made up of data, records, statistics, and confidential information. The value of that data goes up with its volume – as does the cost and time spent storing it. So it’s no wonder that you might be drawn to syncing software such as Dropbox Business. The service that’s primarily known for file sharing and collaboration is now launching efforts to promise cheap space, regular backups, and simplified syncing – Something that sounds like a no-brainer for busy business owners that would rather not think twice, or pay extra, to store records that are rarely used.

Having your data automatically synced with multiple devices and sent off to a repository in the cloud sounds great in theory – until you take a second glance at some common legal requirements that make quick and accurate data recover a must: retaining your vital information and records for extended periods of time, the ability to recover data in its original, unaltered form, and even limitations on what information can and can’t be stored across international borders. These requirements should all be considered when seeking storage for legal compliance and indicate that cloud services intended for collaboration may better be left to syncing.

The Myth of Cloud Storage

The number one reason cloud storage isn’t a viable archiving solution? Those terms and conditions agreed to when initializing your storage account ensure that the company isn’t held responsible for your data! But isn’t “keeping it safe” why you’re putting it there in the first place?

We’ve read through the fine print and found our fears confirmed through Jeff Pederson, manager of data recovery operations for Kroll Ontrack. He informs customers that cloud storage isn’t a secure contingency plan as “virtualization contracts often claim no liability for data corruption, deletion, destruction or loss.”

But My Cloud Storage Claims to Backup Data

While they may promise big, cloud storage services seem pretty reluctant on the whole to backup your data regularly.

A professional photographer’s experience highlighted in Forbes explores her frustrations when trusting 2.5 terabytes of data work to the service Carbonite, only to find that six months later the initial backup still hadn’t been completed due to limitations placed on data uploads.

When contacted “a Carbonite spokesperson confirmed the bandwidth throttling and sent me a link to where it is clearly spelled out in the Carbonite customer knowledge base. Carbonite claims that average users actually only achieve upload speeds of 3GB to 4GB per day for the first 200GB.”

The article states at that rate your data could take up to 360 days for the initial backup! That’s an entire year of unprotected data just waiting for a disaster.

The Big Backup

Cloud storage solutions are great for short-term offloading or conveniently syncing with multiple devices, but still can’t be considered a reliable solution for long-term data retention no matter what they name the service.

So while they remain great for sharing family photos, corporate files deserve more careful treatment when ensuring the durability of your data is a must. Until Dropbox and similar services can confirm they will shoulder responsibility for any data that’s lost or damaged, the services remain short on delivering the key requirement that any business owner should demand of their archiving solution: reliable storage data for easy retrieval in its original form.

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Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down

Here at Digistor we’re aware of the concern over recent high-profile data breaches – but did you realize the same scalable solution Facebook is implementing for a complete revamping of their secure storage backups is already available to you as a consumer? The need for worry-free systems that offer as much – or as little – space as you need is growing for companies and individuals, alike.

Repeated Violations of Privacy Are More Scandalous than Leaked Photos.

Right on the heels of the cringe-inducing publicity of several high profile hacked iCloud accounts that left a nation of casual cloud-storage users feeling vulnerable, comes another system attack that should have every responsible vendor searching for more secure options.

Home Depot has confirmed that on Monday that hackers were able to break into the chain’s in-store payment systems in what could be the largest known data breach of any retail company’s computer network. According to recent coverage by the NY Times, affected customers could number over 60 million.

Data Breaches Cost More Than Your Reputation

The sheer scale of customers affected by Home Depot’s data breach surpasses last year’s title-holding hacker attack into Target’s systems – An ordeal that affected 40 million customers across the US and Canada.

And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Home Depot’s attempts to offer reconciliation include a paltry offering of identity protection and credit monitoring services, which hasn’t deferred customers in Georgia from already filing a class-action lawsuit against the retailer for failing to protect customers from fraud or alerting them in a timely manner.

With companies being held legally liable for the security of their customer’s data, is it any wonder that Facebook kicked off this year by building a Blu-ray storage system? Their 10,000 disc strong system amounts to over a petabyte of energy-efficient, secure data storage.

Digistor’s Solutions Back Up More Than Your Data

The NY Times has reported that

“The Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service recently estimated that more than 1,000 businesses in the United States had been infected with malware that is programmed to siphon payment card details from cash registers in stores. They believed that many of these businesses did not even know they were sharing customers’ credit card information.”

NPR’s All Tech Considered has coined the phrase Data Breach-Fatigue` when discussing the overwhelming feeling of numbness consumers have regarding the repeated notifications businesses large and small to keep an eagle eye on their accounts.

“We are in the trough of disillusionment,” says Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. “Over 1,000 retailers have been hit; it’s not limited to Home Depot. There are 999 others that no one’s talking about.”

As a business owner, the fear of a data breach increases with the knowledge that your system’s security is depended upon by others. And when faulty security has the capability to both cripple a company’s good name, and their bottom line if found responsible for restitution, you may find yourself turning to alternatives for secure data storage and archiving.

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DIGISTOR REWIND covers Windows 8.1 data archiving needs

One of the biggest headaches that PC users must contend with is updating all of their software when they make the move to a new operating system. Eventually, everyone needs to migrate to a newer OS as older versions will become outdated and lose vendor support. Microsoft’s recent efforts to phase out Windows XP are a great example of this. Anyone who continues to rely on XP will have to cope with vulnerabilities and other coding issues without the assistance of the OS’s creator. As such, many Windows users have moved on to the platform’s latest iteration, 8.1.

Windows 8 and its subsequent update – Windows 8.1 present a notable shift from older platforms. While Windows 7 was essentially XP with a face lift, Windows 8 has been designed with future user preferences in mind. Specifically, Microsoft designed its latest OS to work seamlessly and effortlessly on tablets and other mobile devices. By bridging the gap between traditional PC systems and mobile layouts, Windows 8 is a wholly distinct OS. That means that consumers need to take care that their software is compatible with this latest PC platform. There’s arguably nothing more frustrating than investing in an application that won’t even run on the most current hardware.

Archiving data on Windows 8
One area that consumers should take particular note of is data archiving software. PC users don’t want to run the risk of being left in the cold when their outdated product fails to back up one-of-a-kind documents and files. Data loss can happen in the blink of an eye and without warning, so having an effective tool in place should be a primary concern. As an industry-leader in this field, DIGISTOR is always on the forefront of the latest data archiving solutions. Our REWIND software enables Windows users to back up their important photos, videos and other files with ease. Because REWIND is compatible with Windows 8.1, consumers don’t need to worry about losing functionality when making the jump to the latest PC platform.

Getting the most out of REWIND is easy as pie. All you need is a Blu-ray burner and discs to get started on archiving your collection of irreplaceable information and documents. REWIND has been designed to eliminate any potential headaches, providing consumers with the most user-friendly data archiving software on the market. Navigating the REWIND interface is a breeze, helping individuals avoid any missteps that could derail the backup process. Any Windows 8 users who want the peace of mind knowing their most important files are securely archived should download the free REWIND trial and see what all the fuss is about.

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Back to school: Bringing enterprise data archiving principles to higher education

Data archiving solutions have been widely accepted in the corporate world, giving enterprise leaders the peace of mind of knowing that even in the event of a catastrophic data loss incident, their most important historical records will be retained. But why stop at the enterprise level? There's no reason that other industries cannot similarly benefit from the use of archiving tools. In fact, some sectors have an arguably greater need for these resources as the amount of data they generate is off the charts. Specifically, universities and other institutions of higher education produce a great deal of information that needs to be stored for the long haul. Given the amount of in-depth research that is conducted at these schools, historical records need to be archived and made available whenever needed.

It would be difficult to overstate how much data is coursing through university networks and systems. Everything from enrollment records to research material must be cataloged, stored and kept in a state that permits access at a later date. Consider, for instance, the widespread switch from paper-based documents to digital ones. Many student records, grade reports and even reference materials are now stored on a server or hard drive somewhere instead of in a filing cabinet or on a library shelf.

Like every other sector, higher education is making the most of big data advancements, leaning on analytics tools to improve every facet of university operations. Under these circumstances, no piece of information can be deemed inconsequential and instead must be archived in the event that it could provide some meaningful insight.

All of these factors have come together to make data archiving a pressing need for institutions of higher education. For instance, the Indiana University Scholarly Data Archive can hold as much as 42 petabytes of data for the school's research purposes alone. The platform provides a two-fold service for the organization: storing important information for later use and backing up research records in the event that it needs to be recovered following a data loss incident.

Choosing the right platform
University officials must be mindful of their data archiving needs and find solutions that meet their specific demands. Legacy tape-based platforms may not be able to measure up to today's storage standards. For instance, tapes will become demagnetized as the years roll on, increasing the likelihood that some important kernel of information will be lost forever. Writing on his StorageMojo blog, data storage expert Robin Harris mentioned another compelling reason to forgo tape as a potential archiving tool, explaining that in order to maintain the integrity of the format's materials, tape users would need to deploy strict climate control processes. In addition to being expensive and arduous to implement, such technology may not be supported by an institution's data center.

Universities require a far more reliable, durable and simple solution to their data archiving needs. Again, higher education administrators should look to other sectors for inspiration addressing this issue. Many tech-savvy companies including Amazon and Facebook have tested archiving tools that are built upon optical discs in recent months. These organizations made waves earlier this year when they divulged details about Blu-ray-based cold storage systems for their data center operations. Consumers who associate Blu-ray with movies and video games may be surprised that these discs could shoulder the data archiving workload of tech-giant like Facebook, but those familiar with the media know better.

Blu-ray meets data archiving needs
Blu-ray offers a range of benefits that other forms of storage media simply cannot touch. Perhaps Blu-ray's greatest asset is its scalability. The technology's costs are decreasing just as its storage capacity continues to rise, making it a sensible solution from a pure financial perspective. But that low cost makes it a breeze for adopters to quickly scale up their archiving operations without needing to break the bank investing in new hardware. Additional discs can be added to an enterprise archiving tool at a moment's notice. This way, university leaders won't run the risk of being caught off guard by a sudden surge in data.

Those same material and environmental factors that make tape such a gamble for archiving are of no concern to Blu-ray users. These discs are remarkably durable, capable of remaining functional for decades in less-than-ideal storage conditions. Whereas tape will break down unless treated appropriately, Blu-ray discs will offer reliable data retrieval even in poor environments. In addition, because these discs are so affordable, organizations can create as many backups as they like.

When looking at possible data archiving solutions, institutions of higher education should prioritize scalability, durability and reliability. The last thing one of these organizations needs is to lose critical data backups because it chose to use a faulty platform. Optical media, and Blu-ray in particular, provides the full range of benefits that businesses look for in a high-quality archiving tool. Universities should consider taking advantage of these resources for their own needs as well.

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