Weeding out of data and data files is an important part of data maintenance. Over a period of time, some files lose their importance and relevance and may have to be deleted from the system. So, what happens when all data is stored in a cloud? How does one delete such files and folders?

Experts insist that creating a data deletion process is as important as choosing a storage strategy. A data deletion strategy involves selecting or deploying the right data deletion software, securely deleting the data, and verifying whether the data is actually deleted from the online repository. Most enterprises remain unaware of this need. Those who are conscious of it do not adopt a robust strategy for want of resources or perceived costs.

The best of the breed cloud service providers define a data deletion strategy as part of their service offerings and assist their customers in deleting. State of art data deletion software has the ability to customize data deletion processes for specific types of data. The vendor sets up the required hardware and software tools that can help the enterprise categorize data and identify specific nuggets of data that need to be deleted at specific time periods or on receipt of a manual data request.

What are the advantages of having a data deletion strategy? Time stamped data that has lost its relevance can be automatically deleted from the system on expiry of the retention period specified in the data retention policy settings of the enterprise. This saves the enterprise the time and the labor involved in identifying and destroying irrelevant data. This further saves storage space and reduces e-discovery costs.

What actually happens at the backend during a data deletion process? The system receives a data deletion request manually or automatically. The software identifies the data that needs to be deleted, checks the date and time for data deletion, and the “means” that should be employed to delete the data. The system further checks whether there is any redundant storage for that piece of data and whether the redundant storage also needs to be deleted. Once these parameters have been identified, the software disables all access to the object and performs the deletion operation. The customer is charged for the service and a confirmation of the deletion is sent to the subscriber. The returning confirmation message is time stamped and signed. If the deletion process fails, the object is moved or renamed before the deletion operation is attempted again. When an unauthorized user impersonates, a security mechanism will kick in preventing the cloud provider from completing the deletion process and facilitate restoration of the data.