As part of the management lifecycle of data in many companies there is a need to either retain data that may no longer be required, or evidentially dispose of data.  For example:

  • Archive data storage: data that is no longer likely to be required but may need to be referred to and so needs to be retained.
  • Nearline data storage: an intermediate data storage solution that is not immediately available, but can be made available quickly without human intervention.  Typically this data is a click away and may take 30-60 seconds to become available.
  • Offline data storage: a storage solution where data is not immediately available and requires some human intervention to make it so.

Effective offline storage is an important stage in the data management lifecycle which as well as requiring forward planning also offers opportunities for cost saving.

For example if the timescale being used to measure the life of offline data is years and decades, as opposed to months, then choosing proprietary hardware and software solutions may severely limit a company’s ability to retrieve the data if required to do so at a later date.  With current speeds of technological advance, if a company has a legal requirement to retain data beyond what can reasonably be expected to be the lifecycle of the devices or technology used to store it, it is useful to plan a long term offline data storage solution that is both cost effective and “future proof”.

Hard disc or tape storage solutions can be effective for nearline data storage but is it useful to spend large amounts, for example, on offline storage solutions that may in 5/10/20 years time suffer the following problems:

  • hardware failure due to age (seized motors, magnetic media deterioration, glue deterioration
  • hardware failure due to storage environment
  • hardware failure due to poor storage management practices
  • use of proprietary file formats that are no longer recognised by modern machines
  • port incompatibility preventing connection to modern devices
  • software incompatibility preventing connection to modern devices


Using a “one size fits all” solution for nearline and offline data storage could potentially be both unnecessarily expensive and, more importantly, ultimately ineffective.  To be sure that data can be accessed at some point in the future a company using this approach will need also to archive and maintain all machines and software needed to access the data being stored.

Rather than using a nearline solution to manage offline data Mercia Solutions can provide solutions that use standard file systems, and are stable and cheap.  We understand the strengths and weaknesses of different storage systems and media and can build a system to suit your needs, or add on to your existing system and migrate data across to cheaper, more affective solutions.