Article

Are Reports Data?

IBM i
Posted:
August 30, 2016

 

Have you looked around your OS/400 output queues lately to see what’s stored there and how old it is? You should. Ask yourself:

  • Is this data I need to worry about?
  • When was the last time I backed it up?
  • Am I cleaning out old files?
  • Is the information secure?
  • Who has access to view it?
  • Most importantly, do I even need it?

These output queues contain spooled files (i.e., unprinted reports), which are vulnerable to security threats and business recovery. So yes, it is an area you should definitely be aware of.

I often find that customers store reports in output queues for years, saving them for audit purposes or historical reporting, but this model raises several concerns.

1. Performance

Each spooled file represents a job on the system. If you never purge the spooled files, they basically get a job in the internal job tables and have a negative impact on overall performance.

2. Data Loss

What’s to stop a system administrator, operator, end user, or developer from accidently taking option 4 on the spooled file via WRKOUTQ or executing CLROUTQ commands—POOF! your data is gone.

3. Security

Data in spooled files presents a possible security issue if *SPLDTA is not handled properly on your system. User profiles that have *SPLDTA authority can look at any spooled file on the system. Often, your reports contain information about payroll numbers or financials that you don’t want out of the company, and you could have other sensitive data in the reports.

When it comes to performance, there are many ways to purge spooled files automatically using different aging utilities from HelpSystems. Robot Schedule and Robot Space, for example, can help you with this.

Backup and recovery products like Robot Save can protect your business from data loss. Robot Save has a parameter in the backup rules to include spooled data as it runs the backup commands.

You could also put a record retention program around output using Robot Reports. This is more work, but it makes the whole area more secure and easier to audit.

Reports are an important and often forgotten part of your data. Make sure you have the appropriate programs in place for your industry.

 

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Seven tips on spooled file management and output queue organization.

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