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What are the best log consolidation and storage methods?

Storing log data is an important part of the log management process. Maintain performance, security and backup policies with careful log consolidation.

Log movement and storage can pose challenges to IT staff, but some basic guidelines can streamline log consolidation and help avoid potential issues.

Logs are key tools that IT staff can use to troubleshoot problems, maintain security and comply with regulations. Logs are often the foundation of many decisions regarding optimization and regulatory compliance. Log management requires logging analysis tools to harvest the data, but, once the data is captured, IT teams must use proper log consolidation procedures for its storage.

Location matters when storing log data

Accelerate log performance by writing first to local buffers or queues. It's generally not a good practice to write logs directly or synchronously to disk because it's easy for the log activity to disrupt application performance. Instead, provision a buffer or scratchpad storage area and queue up log entries that IT administrators can write to the actual log later.

Store logs outside of the production environment in dedicated storage assets. This log consolidation enables many prospective log users, such as software developers, to access logs without the potential security problems of production access. If possible, it's often helpful to parse log files when ingesting the logs for the first time. Parsed log data makes for much faster searching and filtering.

Become an expert in log analysis

Focus your data capture on business objectives with log filters. Plan log management with effective strategies that take into account storage and security needs. Logging standards help ensure proper procedures are followed.

Regardless of how many logs the IT staff consolidates and stores, it's critical to monitor the storage resources provisioned for log consolidation. Monitoring and alerts can prevent log storage volumes from filling unexpectedly and disrupting logging operations. Generally, IT staff will configure a storage limit or implement a log rotation policy that prevents storage exhaustion and unexpected logging errors.

Protect log files with security and backup policies

Apply thorough security policies during log consolidation. Logs can contain a wealth of sensitive data, so you should use encryption, filtering or scrubbing to guard against data loss or theft. This can be particularly important because logs might be accessible to different groups or users within the business. It's also a good practice to maintain encryption when transferring log data over the network.

Finally, consider the appropriate data protection or backup policy for log files. For example, multiple groups within the business often share logs, so replication can be an important tool for data protection and to ensure that each constituent group has its own copies of the log files. This prevents any one group from altering or deleting log data.

This was last published in April 2018

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How do you maintain security when storing log data?
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