Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). We all practice it to some degree—for better or worse—with respect to our personal data. For example, my checkbook register is a convenient, highly available (as long as I don't lose it) storage device in which I record monetary data such as checks, deposits, EFTs, and service charges. I carry it with me and keep it up to date with each transaction. When I run out of space in the register, I place it in longer-term storage—my desk drawer—where it remains until I need it at tax time. And I simply pick up where I left off recording data by adding storage—another low-cost (i.e., free) checkbook register.

Come tax time, I use these registers to identify deductions and other transactions that might be of interest to the government. Afterward, I move these registers and other paperwork to a file cabinet, where they reside until the drawer gets too full. At which time, it's off to my storage silo—a box in my garage's attic—to wait out whatever remains of the 7-year retention period that the government recommends for personal records. After this archive period, I dispose of the registers via a document shredder and reclaim the silo space.

Obviously, ILM is a lot more complicated for businesses that have large quantities of different types of data to protect and store for varying amounts of time as mandated by company and government regulations. But the basic idea is the same: Not all data is created equal, and the value of specific pieces of information changes over time. Plus, it's simply good business to use high-performance, expensive storage for only your most-critical production data and less-expensive, lower-performance storage for low-value data. But how do you get on top of effectively managing your company's data and storage devices? Our cover story, "ILM Puts Data in Its Place," page 40, provides the framework you need to manage your data and storage infrastructure efficiently and cost-effectively throughout the lifetime of your data. If you're ready to build your ILM strategy today, don't miss out on this article.

To Protect and Defend
Several other articles in this issue also focus on data—in particular, data availability, recovery, and protection. "Riding Out the Storm," page 41, relates how one insurance agency was able to resume operations processing customer claims within 24 hours after Hurricane Charley hit last summer. Their secret? An up-to-date disaster recovery plan that might be right for you, too.

Karen Forster's Hey Microsoft!: "What's Data Protection Server?" page 15, investigates what IT pros think about Microsoft's move into the server backup market with its new disk-based backup product, Data Protection Server. As you read the article, be sure to take a few minutes to tell us about your worst recovery nightmare, and you might win a copy of UBDP Pro from UltraBac Software. For contest details and to enter your story, type 45248 in the InstantDoc text box at http://www.windowsitpro.com and click the link in the Interact! box.

This month's Buyer's Guide, "Exchange Recovery Tools," page 35, drills down into 12 products that can help you effectively recover your valuable Exchange data after hardware failure or a data corruption incident. If you want to test your Exchange backup and recovery expertise, take our online quiz for a chance to win a T-shirt. Enter InstantDoc ID 45260 on our Web site and click the link for the quiz in the Interact! box.

Finally, Joseph Kinsella looks at a modern-day scourge that can compromise your business data: spyware. In "Put a Stop to Spyware," page 61, find out just how dangerous spyware can be to your organization, learn how it works, and arm yourself to fight it.

Grab It and Go
Each month, we offer Solutions Plus articles that provide a complete step-by-step guide to solving a common IT problem or completing a project. These grab-it-and-go how-to articles include handy Project Summaries that tell you what you'll need, how long the project will take, how difficult it is, and what key steps are involved.

If you haven't checked out our Solutions Plus articles, take a few minutes to browse through the two in this issue: Douglas Toombs' "Analyzing Web Statistics with AWStats," page 46, and Jeff Fellinge's "Automate MBSA," page 52. Let me know what you think and how we can make them even better.