Storage Station

A bird's eye view of the data storage industry.

Institutions Need to Get With It on Moving Digital Files

The Station feels for the Massachusetts hospital that recently lost 800,000 highly sensitive patient and employee records, but in this new age of easily transportable data storage, this should never happen.

South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, Mass., reported last week that it is investigating the loss of 800,000 backup files containing personal, health and financial information of patients, physicians and other individuals connected with the medical facility.

The files were sent to a data-management company to be destroyed on Feb. 26, but the hospital was informed almost four months later [on June 17] that only a portion of the backup records actually had been received and destroyed. It is unknown when during the four-month period that the files disappeared.

"We engaged a professional data-management company to arrange for the destruction and shipping and it was within this shipping process that these files were lost," Sarah Darcy, spokesperson for the hospital, told eWEEK's Brian Horowitz. "It was not something that happened on our campus."

No matter. The hospital is solely responsible for its record-keeping. Now what will happen if even a few of those records get into the wrong hands? Having been the victim of identify theft eight years ago, The Station shudders to think.

From time to time we still get stories of digital tapes falling out of trucks on the way to the archive storage facility, or disks getting stolen from laptops. This old-school approach eventually has to phase itself out. The sooner, the better, IMO.

The solution? There are several, but keeping data in house, encrypting it, and moving it electronically from place to place is soon going to be the only way to go. Keeping everything in the cloud is another much simpler way to do it.

Tapes certainly have their advantages, but moving them from one location to another is always going to involve the human element. That will always be the Achilles' heel for physical data storage.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...