Protecting our Planet: Environmentally-Friendly Data Management Practices

Apr 23, 2021 | StorCentric

Your data storage practices may not be helping the environment. What’s the problem with storing data in the cloud? 

It’s hard to think that data management can be impacting the environment like carbon emissions from cars or planes do. However, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day, and 90 percent of all the data we’ve created has been created in the past two years. All of this data has to be stored somewhere, and whether we think about it or not, all of that cloud storage has to be powered in some way. The more data we create and store, the more power is needed to support it all. 

The exponential growth of cloud-based services means that data centers need more and more power. In 2020, data centers used about 2 percent of the globe’s electricity, but by 2030, it’s estimated that these centers could use as much as 8 percent of the world’s electricity.

We can reduce the amount of plastic we consume, bring reusable bags to the grocery store, buy electric cars, and choose foods with a smaller carbon footprint, but as a society, we can also implement eco-friendly data management practices too. Here’s what you need to know. 

Do a Personal Digital Cleanup

Euro News suggests decluttering our devices is one way to cut down on the amount of storage we consume and by extension; how much power is needed to store this data. Nearly all of our online activities increase our carbon footprint, which means that our old emails and blurry pictures are using energy—even if we don’t want or need to access them ever again. 

In fact, if every person in Britain held off on sending a “thank you” email, it would conserve 16,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year, which is the equivalent of 81,000 flights from London to Madrid. 

An easy way to make earth-friendly digital choices? Deleting old or unnecessary emails or files that are no longer needed, or eliminating unnecessary duplicate files are quick and easy actions to take today. 

But this kind of conservation isn’t limited to individuals. Organizations can bring these tactics to an entire enterprise too.

Enterprise-Wide: Use Less Storage to Use Less Energy

As Energy Star put it, “The concept of energy-efficient data storage is simple — use less storage to use less energy.” The upshot for organizations is that earth-friendly data storage can also mean better data storage too. 

How can you use less storage, and therefore less energy?

  • Automated storage provisioning, which improves efficiency through better utilization of existing storage.
  • Data compression to minimize transmission traffic and reduce overall data storage. Compressing data requires energy, so the best candidates for data compression are files that are rarely accessed. This can save 15 to 30 of data energy consumption. 
  • Deduplication reduces a company’s redundant unnecessary copies of data. This can condense that amount of data stored by as much as 95 percent for some companies because it requires less hardware and in turn, less energy.
  • Snapshots are a form of deduplication that are important for modeling or running simulations with large data sets. They don’t require the additional space that complete copies of live data need.
  • Thin provisioning allocates just as much storage as you need, just when you need it. Organizations can allocate space for data applications with room to grow in the future, but they only power storage that is currently in use. Gmail uses thin provisioning because many users only use a small portion of their allocated capacity.
  • RAID level storage or redundant array of independent disk storage combines multiple disk drive components into one unit based on the level of redundancy and performance needed. Higher levels use more storage and power to manage duplicate copies of data but lower levels do not employ as much redundancy, thereby saving energy for less critical data. 
  • Tiering storage relies on the concept that stored data typically is less used or accessed as it ages and doesn’t need to be stored on high-performance drives. Storage tiering stores lower-priority data on higher-latency equipment to use less energy, while data that is more frequently needed or used stays on high-performance drives for less latency.

The best part about all of this? These practices aren’t meant to disrupt performance at all. These methods can conserve energy while still optimizing storage and operational performance. 

Energy Star also suggests using solid-state drives (SSDs) because SSDs do not have to power spinning disks. Plus, they have faster read speeds and better performance than their spinning, hard disk drive counterparts. All-flash arrays and high-density block storage devices definitely fit this bill. 

Cut Data ROT

Have you heard of data ROT? ROT stands for data that is:

  • Redundant: Duplicate copies of files stored in multiple locations.
  • Obsolete: Files that have not been used in a long time and likely won’t be used again.
  • Trivial: Files that are not relevant to the enterprise like music, media, and personal files.

All of this excess data is impacting your overall data consumption and storage needs and is driving up your energy usage as a result. They impede data visibility and make it harder to access the data you need when you need it. They also can cause:

  • Increased storage costs
  • Lowered business efficiency
  • Slower data discovery scans
  • Data security risks
  • Risk of non-compliance penalties

The yearly cost of storing ROT files that clog up your storage drives is around $2,340 per terabyte, per year. Not only do these “rotting” files not make sense when it comes to protecting the environment, but they are also cutting into hard-earned profits. 

So, how do you get rid of ROT?

Security Boulevard recommends taking the following actions:

  1. Update your storage policies to improve information governance and set up custom data retention policies to keep ROT data from ever accumulating.
  2. Implement file analysis solutions to find ROT files lurking in your storage environments like non-business files, duplicates, and untouched and irrelevant data.
  3. Create workflows to manage data, like the deletion of junk files and policy-based archiving to free up disk space, improve performance, and use less storage and energy.
  4. Repeat this process! Just like removing clutter from a desk drawer, you have to continuously work to remove ROT data. From time to time, you’ll want to scan data stores for irrelevant data, then purge it or remove it to secondary storage devices that use less energy.

Get Help from Storage Professionals

At StorCentric, our goal is to help you achieve your data storage goals with simple, affordable, efficient data management software and all-flash storage solutions that utilize cutting-edge technology. And as an added perk, we can help you reduce your overall carbon footprint with sensible data management and storage practices. 

Our purpose is to help you manage your data intelligently, with an approach that will also conserve energy and implement environmentally-friendly practices. We’ll address your energy usage and data storage in three ways:

  • The physical infrastructure of your data storage, including the locations, equipment, and lifecycles of equipment.
  • The streamlined movement of data to get it from where it is to where you need it in the most efficient way possible.
  • How data is used.

We’re here to help you access, manage, and protect your digital information. To learn more about how we can do so, connect with us today!