Tip

MP3 files, an IT nightmare -- are you backing up unwanted files?

Mp3s have become increasingly popular as people choose to download their favorite songs in order to enjoy them at home or at work. The most attractive MP3 repositories for avid file-swapping users are those with always-on, high-speed Internet connectivity. A large number of these repositories reside on corporate or educational servers and workstations -- networks that naturally have broadband Internet access. So where are many of these folks accessing their MP3 files? You guessed it -- from work. With traffic at some sites reporting over 200,000+ visits per day for downloads; there may be a lot of personal activity going on at your employees' desktops.

What is MP3?

For those who don't know, MP3 is a technology that compresses high-quality sound files into digital audio format so that they can be downloaded quickly from the Internet to a PC hard drive. MP3 is a file format, which stores audio files on a computer in such a way that the file size is relatively small, but the song sounds virtually perfect. Typically, 1M Byte is equal to one minute of music or several minutes for spoken words such as in audio books.

Backing up unnecessary data

With new MP3 file-swapping services being created daily - and no end in sight - installing firewall protection products clearly is not enough to prevent employees from abusing company and IT resources.

Computer-savvy individuals can easily get around the firewall and IT professionals do

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not have the resources to block this onslaught of services. However, there are combinations of resources one can use to scan and automatically delete these files, but the costs vary. What is important to know is whether or not your backup software can exclude certain files and prevent files like MP3s from being stored as unnecessary data and increasing backup window times.

MP3 files are compressed files, thus cannot be further compressed during the backup process. The amount of MP3 files stored by multiple users can compound over a short amount of time causing large amounts of unnecessary data to be included in daily backups. This adds up to a definite waste of resources, time, and money.

A case study

One of amerivault?s clients experienced unnecessary storage fees due to MP3 usage by employees. This client is a global leader in international Internet telephony who delivers toll-quality service to U.S. tier-one carriers and other international carriers. In the process of doing business, this client transfers large amounts of data nightly to amerivault?s Mass Storage Vaults.

What they quickly realized was that they were also backing up and storing unnecessary personal MP3 files. In one instance, the client discovered 2.3G Bytes worth of MP3 files on one server alone. The MIS manager deleted the files from the server and then excluded them from the backup process by prompting the amerivault software to exclude all .mp3 extensions as a measure to protect from storing unnecessary files.

Conclusion Companies have the right to safeguard what's running on their networks, particularly from a security, legal and productivity standpoint. The security impact surrounding files of unknown origin should be a major concern along with backing up unnecessary files and wasting company resources. Because MP3 files are relatively large, they consume an organization?s computing resources accordingly. And, as swapping traffic increases, so do the organization's legal and ethical concerns about how its digital assets are being used.

About the author: Tricia Camera works for amerivault corp..


This was first published in February 2001

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