Conventional wisdom informs businesses to store every byte of their data possible, and with the affordability of cloud storage, more companies are storing more files. Surprisingly, in an aboutface to this maximum data-storage practice, businesses are now being advised to delete all unnecessary data in light of our lawsuit-happy culture.
Data as a Liability
The theory of data as a liability makes sense. Unknowingly, you may be storing a file on your network that, upon getting sued, will be retrieved and used against your business. If the incriminating file has zero value to the day-to-day operations of your business (as is the case with 72 percent of all stored data, according to a recent study by IDG Research Services), then what’s the point of holding on to a time bomb like this?
This was the legal advice given to CIO.com from Tony MacFarland, an attorney who advocates the practice of methodical and vigorous data destruction:
It’s a way to avoid risk. That’s because when you no longer store the data you don’t really have to retain, complying with legal requests for e-mail or documents is not just easier, it means that whatever the topic of the legal inquiry of electronic discovery, the old documents are simply not there to produce, hence less legal exposure.
This is why diligent data management is important, and why you need to be on the lookout for unnecessary files that can become a liability. Deleting of unnecessary data needs to be at the top of your organization’s data management checklist.
To be clear, we’re not advocating that you pull a Richard Nixon and destroy crucial documents needed to complete a legitimate investigation. We’re simply talking about reducing risks. Deleting data to minimize liability is no different than performing routine maintenance around your office. See a spill in the kitchen, mop it up. Come across an uncovered electrical outlet, cover it up. Notice a file containing useless company emails from five years ago, wipe the file from the network.
The Importance of Having a Data Destruction Plan
Essentially, your business needs a solid data destruction plan. One data management solution that your business can take advantage of is a centralized electronic-document management system, preferably one that’s automated to save you time and prevent unneeded and risky files from piling up on your system. Attorney Tony MacFarland has these legal tips to help you build your own data destruction plan:
- When possible under law, consider e-mail transitory, perhaps saved to a personal folder but “all gone after a year.”
- Eliminate shared folders.
- Only retain personal information on employees required under labor laws.
- Figure out what types of documents must be stored for specific timeframes in the given industry, and electronically destroy them (as well as the paper documents) based on specific timeframes for retention periods under law.
We also feel the need to point out that this isn’t an excuse to forgo backing up your data. You still want to utilize a data backup and recovery solution like our BDR tool. In the modern office, it’s recommended that businesses have in place both a business continuity plan that includes data backup, and a data destruction plan to minimize liability. CTN Solutions can help you implement both of these plans. Call us today at (610) 828- 5500 to learn more.