Data Storage Management Best Practice: Establishing a Data Retention Policy

Posted by Dustin Smith, Chief Technologist
July 28, 2014

A sound enterprise data management solution should contain a well thought out data retention policy.  It’s a critical component of data archiving and with today’s strict data requirements, a necessity.

Once you have a data retention policy, enforce it for all the information you have on your network. You should also record the retention periods, both for distribution to users and as part of the legal defensibility record. The retention schedule doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it should include speci­fics about the various categories and associated retention periods. When creating a written schedule, organizations should focus on two main criteria: the maximum retention periods and data distribution.

As part of a data retention policy, you should set minimum and maximum retention periods, in order to avoid over-retention. You can either include speci­fic maximum retention periods for each category, or you can include a general clause that when the minimum retention period expires, the company no longer retains the data. This maximum retention period should also address the disposal of any currently retained enterprise data, including information archived under an interim in­finite-retention period.

Once you establish your archival retention periods, distribute the information to all users. In cases where individual employees use a variety of different email programs or in cases where it is common for users to archive e-mail messages, the retention schedule should make clear that this is not “retention” for purposes of the organization.

Organizations can meet legal preservation obligations with interim archiving, regardless of whether a complete retention policy is in place. Litigation requires that a company be immediately able to preserve and retain information (also known as instituting a legal hold) as soon as it reasonably anticipates litigation or governmental action. Simply moving information into an archive does not constitute effective enterprise data storage management. In order to gain the highest benefi­t from archiving, companies should categorize all archived information, setting retention periods for each category. Well established retention periods with automated, effective, and easy-to-use archiving systems create streamlined, customized, and uncomplicated data preservation systems.

Once a good data retention policy is in place and enforced, you can help your company trim costs by reserving the more expensive data storage for more frequently accessed data.

We’d love to hear about your data storage retention policies. Do you have a policy in place and how do you enforce it? 

About Dustin Smith Throughout his twenty-year career, Dustin Smith has specialized in designing enterprise architectural solutions. As the Chief Technologist, Dustin is responsible for the strategic direction of aligning the company’s growing consulting services with the client challenges he finds in the field, and he works closely with his regional architects to design new programs to address these issues.

Filed Under: Data & Storage

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