Businesses that operate with ‘dark’ or obsolete data have a direct effect on climate change, as poor management of data and storage can unwittingly contribute to carbon production. According to Veritas Technologies, a leader in multi-cloud data management, 33% of businesses operate with ‘dark’ data (data that has no value to a business), while 68% retain redundant, obsolete, or trivial data. This abundance of data puts businesses at a higher risk of having data stolen – and managing this data effectively plays a key role in the fight for sustainability.
While Singapore has the highest number of data centres in Southeast Asia, Malaysia trails closely behind – and these data centres are costly, requiring millions of kilowatt hours every day to operate. Computing counterparts, semiconductors, backup servers, and massive water pump cooling systems to keep computers from overheating all require significant resources to operate. When a single email sitting in an inbox can equate to anywhere between 0.03 and 26 grams of CO2, it is important for businesses in Malaysia to consider their data management, given the Government’s ongoing efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
As technology plays a more expansive role in our work and personal lives, carbon production will only increase. Veritas research revealed that time spent on tools such as Zoom and Teams has increased by 21 percent since the start of the pandemic, meaning employees are now spending 2.3 hours on average every day continuously aggregating data that doesn’t add value to the business.
The issue is that many businesses don’t recognise the environmental cost of these data build-ups, and fail to follow processes to ensure unnecessary data like old files and emails are deleted.
“As a business’ data footprint grows, so does their data risk: the more data you have, the more data you are at risk of losing. The impact to business continuity and customer trust is often the most talked about – not to mention the reputational risk of a data breach or hack, which can be permanently damaging in the event of a publicised, high-profile breach – but the negative effects of these practices are just as concerning for our environment and our future,” says Sandy Woo, Country Director Malaysia at Veritas Technologies.
“As digital transformation sweeps the nation, this issue is amplified by the increasing reliance on cloud-based technologies, with the average Malaysian business currently using multiple cloud providers at once, either storing data they may not even need anymore, or failing to store it optimally for business efficiency. This causes unnecessary emissions on the environment. In order to hit Malaysia’s sustainability goals, businesses must take proactive steps towards reducing emissions and manage their data safely and efficiently.”
To get started on reducing the emissions caused by data storage, simple steps can make a big difference. Veritas recommends implementing various solutions and habits to help combat the problem of increased CO2 emissions through data storage by:
- Deleting unwanted and unneeded files, including emails
- Providing employees with clear instructions for how to store and classify valuable documents, and ensure that there is organisation-wide consensus on how and where to store data. This will not only improve energy efficiency by reducing storage space, but it can also improve IT efficiency by minimising the risk of data being incorrectly stored, and then lost.
- Managing the businesses cloud footprint through archiving solutions that automatically analyse, track as well as delete information. When uploaded to the cloud, they are automatically classified and expired after a stipulated storage period. Partnering with a provider who embeds sustainable practices at the core of their operations can help identify how you can reduce your digital carbon footprint and keep your data safe.
Although these changes seem small, by encouraging an awareness of the environmental costs of data storage, these improvements can help to decrease a company’s overall carbon footprint, and make a positive contribution to a company’s green initiatives.