Top 10 tips for capacity management


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A proliferation of files that consume large amounts of disk space, and the increasing pressure to archive records for compliance and ediscovery, means smart capacity management is more important than ever. Here are 10 ways to improve your storage capacity management.

  1. Set written storage and retention policies. Before deleting the MP3 files in everyone's home directory, put policies in place that leave some room for exceptions. (Deleting the CEO's recorded speeches, for example, won't make IT too popular.) Company policies should make it clear if keeping pornographic images or pirated music on corporate computers is grounds for termination. And once these policies are in place, enforce them.

  2. Remember, storage is cheap; re-creating intellectual property is very expensive. Capacity management isn't just about removing troublesome files, it's also about keeping legitimate data safe and accessible. When defining storage policies, err on the side of caution. Some user directories can be exempt from pruning but should be monitored anyway. You might want to give the marketing department permissions for video and audio, but you don't want their directory bogged down with unnecessary or unintentionally downloaded files.

  3. Invest in storage management tools. These tools can tell you who's using what storage; categorize usage by

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  1. file type to spot content that should be deleted; automate the process of notifying users if they're using a lot of space; and automatically remove inappropriate content. If you use this last capability, first consider moving files to a holding directory before permanently deleting them.

  2. Use thin provisioning. Thin provisioning allows you to create a volume with 100GB of space, for example, that will consume only a few megabytes of storage initially; more space is allocated to the volume as needed. This means volumes can keep pace with expanding storage needs without overallocating space that can't be used elsewhere. Also, you won't have to buy right now what you think you might need in 24 months.

  3. Use tiered storage. Some storage management products let you designate multiple tiers of storage, generally based on performance and cost. This might include high-speed storage for IO-intensive data such as databases and server working files, nearline storage and offsite tape archives. The management system can automatically move files that aren't used regularly to lower storage tiers, and move them back to higher tiers if they're accessed again.

This was first published in October 2007

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