Aug 19, 201312:38 PMLegal Login
with Mindi Giftos
Data hoarding: How it harms your business and how a data-retention policy can help
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Storage has become so cheap so fast that we think nothing of storing five slightly different, slightly blurry copies of the same photo on our phones, in hopes that one turns out well. We store old files and folders on our computers, thinking we might use them in the future, but up to 80% of our documents are not accessed for three to five years from the time they were saved. Companies store years’ worth of customer and employee data and internal communications, much of it sensitive and dangerous in the event of a data breach, system hack, or litigation.
These behaviors are ingrained in our technologically overwhelmed brains, but how do we stop the hoarding habit? The dangers are worse than we think:
- Storage is cheap, but it still costs money. Hoarding data increases company expenditures on infrastructure, including storage of old tapes, transitions from old servers and systems to newer ones, data migration, and possible disaster-recovery efforts.
- Declining employee productivity. More data typically means less organization and more unwanted records, so it is harder to find what is needed, especially in an emergency. When searching records gets difficult, employees may give up or miss relevant content because there is just too much unnecessary information clouding the search.
- Organizational breakdown. Who from your business is responsible for storing only relevant data for a relevant time period? Typically, it is not IT, records management, or a member of the C-suite. The quantity of retained information is doubling each year, but budgets are contracting, overseen by the officers of the business. If there aren’t enough internal policies or employees to address the limiting of data, it can lead to internal miscommunication, decreasing organization of records, a lack of focus on thinning unnecessary records, and continued bulking-up of data.
- Expenses involved in litigation. A company has the obligation to preserve and produce whatever relevant data a company has when a legal matter arises, including records, emails, and internal company documents. But in order to determine what is potentially relevant for discovery, attorneys must review any related records in what is often a long, expensive process, made longer and more expensive by more data.
- Hackers and lost data. Cyber-attacks are becoming an everyday reality for businesses of all kinds, and data-breach litigation has reached an all-time high. The more customer data your business keeps indefinitely, the more risk it takes on in the event of a hack or breach, and the more it will cost you long term, due to state requirements forcing disclosure of the breach to affected customers.