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3/29/2008
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Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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Lockdown Tradeoffs

Enterprise users and consumers alike have been scared straight about data protection, given the regular headlines about laptop theft or misplaced hard drives. But as users rush to secure the desktop, are their good intentions making the jobs (and lives) of storage pros more difficult?

Enterprise users and consumers alike have been scared straight about data protection, given the regular headlines about laptop theft or misplaced hard drives. But as users rush to secure the desktop, are their good intentions making the jobs (and lives) of storage pros more difficult?I ask this as after reading over this interesting review of whole-disk encryption which looks at seven different products and rates them on ease of use, cool extras, cost, and manageability.

There's certainly no good reason not to encrypt. It's gotten a lot easier and more transparent to the user in the last five years. Many programs are even available free of charge, and whether you're Windows or open source based, there are lots of choices. In many cases, crypto developers have gone to great lengths top ensure that their protections don't swallow up tons of capacity or overhead.

We'll leave the issue of whether your data's worth protecting for another time. Better yet, we'll check in with you on this topic a few minutes after you discover your laptop's gone. Funny how urgency can often create value.

What's less clear to me is how these programs get treated from a data center perspective (assuming that the usage case is business, and not standalone, personal data). Do the virtual volumes on which these encrypted files reside get backed up as well by enterprise servers? Is it presumed that IT has signed off on approved programs or that file protections won't make a hash of daily or weekly backup processes?

And what about the impact of encryption on the wave of data de-duplication that's sweeping the market? If it doesn't make them moot, what does encryption do to restoration times? I'm guessing it's not going to accelerate them any.

I'd love to hear from readers about how you address this, either with your users or CIO. Does one crypto policy fit all where backup's concerned? Let me know.

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