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iTernity Blog

Automatic Protection of Data Integrity with Self-Healing

Data retention periods of ten, thirty or even more years apply to many types of business data. During their „long journey“, a reliable protection of the archived data is vital. The data amounts are steadily increasing along with the risk of data loss and the probability that data is not available in a correct and compliant manner. Consequently, data loss or data damages can cause enormous economic and legal challenges. So, how can organizations ensure data integrity over a long period of time?

 

What are the Reasons for Data Loss and Data Damages?

Ensuring the integrity of archive data during the retention period is necessary to minimize business risks and to comply with various requirements (e.g. laws, industry-specific regulations and internal demands). The most common reasons for data loss and unintentional data modification include silent data corruption, limitations of hardware replications, accidental deletion and data migrations.

 

Silent data corruption

Silent data corruption refers to accidental changes of bits on the storage hardware, without an external control of its condition. This can falsify archive data and make it unreadable. Data aging, media failures and chemical or electromagnetic processes can cause these changes of bits.

 

Limitations of hardware mirroring and reorganization of data

Hardware-based archive systems include the risk of transmitting logical failures onto the target system during replication of data on the storage layer. Hardware-based archive systems sometimes use RAID-configurations which organize several physical bulk storages. These configurations can cause unintentional data modifications: The higher the amount of data in a storage, the more often data needs to be reorganized. This increases the probability that certain data has already been transmitted - while the related parity information has not. Unwanted events which occur at the moment of data transmission – e. g. a short-term non-availability of the write cache – can cause data loss.

 

Data migrations

Data retention periods often require multiple migrations from one system to another. Data migrations can cause unintentional transmission failures, which can result in damages or loss of sensitive and critical data. For instance, content-based and important metadata like retention periods, time stamps or IDs may be lost.

 

Self-Healing: Automatic Verification and Guarantee of Data Integrity

Up to now, most proprietary archive systems cannot fully protect business data against damages or loss – e.g. against silent data corruption or failures caused by migration, replication or reorganization of data. Without a secure storage and the ability to detect silent data corruption or damages, failures often are noticed when it is already too late: when the data is corrupt or even lost. Thus, the archive system must be able to check and guarantee the integrity of the archived data. This „Self-Healing“ ability is essential for an audit-proof archive system.

 

What is Self-Healing?

The Self-Healing feature enables a constant monitoring and assurance of data integrity. Data is stored on two random archive systems at the same time (synchronous replication). Each data record receives a content-related hash value, which is stored as an archive object together with all important extended attributes of the file. The Self-Healing process constantly verifies the consistency and integrity of the archived data on all archive paths. Based on the hash value, damaged and invalid archive objects are identified and automatically repaired by replacing the damaged data with the valid copy. Therefore, logical or technical failures of system-A cannot influence the replicated system-B.

 

Furthermore, the Self-Testing functionality constantly verifies data integrity and detects and reports potential data corruption if data replication is not desired.

 

A content and object based storage of data (content-aware-storage) ensures that users can always access the valid data in the long-term. The Self-Healing functionality enables prevention of silent data corruption, data damages and data loss and thus ensures long-term integrity and availability of important business data. In addition, Self-Healing enables data migrations without losing the evidentiary value.

 

Self-Healing with iCAS for Data Integrity Protection

iCAS is a flexible and scalable data management and archiving solution for all types of business data. Key features of iCAS include protecting the long-term integrity and availability of critical data, and managing storage-level retention policies. This also allows to implement WORM storage (Write Once Read Many), which prevents any deletion of data before the end of the retention period.

 

Contact the iTernity team to learn more about Self-Healing and the benefits of iCAS or register for a free 20-minutes demo.

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