Create and Implement an Effective Electronic Data Storage Retention Policy!

Blog contributor, Eric McVey, CIO Tier4 Advisors

Almost daily we hear clients tell us their storage costs are annually going through the roof. The business keeps asking why and what IT can do to control and/or reduce the spend. IT leaders find themselves in a Catch22 situation because every business wants more and more copies of data, wants this data backed up, plus they don’t want to clean anything up or archive the data off high-speed storage to lower their costs. One potential solution is to develop and implement an effective Electronic Data Storage Retention Policy if your business doesn’t have one in place.

An effective Data Retention Policy ensures that all necessary electronic records and documents are adequately protected and maintained. The policy also ensures that once records are no longer in use or needed by the business, these records are discarded or destroyed at the appropriate time. The policy also ensures employees understand their role in retaining electronic documents such as email, web data, text files, sound or movie files, PDFs and any other Microsoft Office or other formatted database files. The policy would also have language that dictates what to do in the event of litigation or claims of a legal nature.

Components of an effective policy distinguish each type of data and sets the retention periods for holding that data, while giving details regarding its disposition. Once these are addressed, then the technical side work begins. Most storage systems and backup systems on the market today have configuration components within their management software that allow for input of these retention requirements. In addition, many storage and backup systems have the intelligence built in to automatically move data as it ages off high speed, expensive storage to slower speed, less expensive storage. Once the retention period for a piece of data has expired, reports are generated that detail what’s up for disposal, i.e., it asks “are you sure you want to delete this?” report. If nothing is done to the data, it’s securely deleted.

The addition of an effective Electronic Data Retention policy requires a detailed deep dive of all your applications (web, app, database), but also your employee’s systems, i.e., not a quick and easy process. This time investment can solve your business needs to reduce costs and any risk of data breach exposures to your company.

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