Had an interesting thought the other day when talking to an attorney about e-discovery. We were talking about a situation that I’ve seen in the tech world all too often, where you have backup tapes, or other program data sitting around, with no way to actually read the data. Either the tapes are for a long-defunct backup drive, or the data was created and read in a program that you no longer have access to, but for some reason, your pack-rat IT folks keep it around.
Now, in e-discovery terms, the vast majority of the time you aren’t going to have to search that data for relevant ESI, either because it’s not relevant, or because it is unduly burdensome. But, I suppose, there is the highly unlikely chance that you will have to, which led to my next question.
Why keep it? You can’t access it, it is utterly useless to you, you’re under no regulatory compulsion to keep it, so why does it even take up space on your shelf? Why risk, even the slimmest of possibilities that you might actually have to pay to have someone access this stuff? Why not just get rid of it?
Actually, I know why, because I’ve been the packrat IT guy. At my old job, we kept all of our old backup tapes stored in a closet, mostly because no one really wanted to pay for them to be disposed of securely. You don’t want to be the guy who tossed backup tapes with customer data in the dumpster and find out that someone got them, and figured out how to access them. It’s a legitimate fear, but it’s no excuse to not get rid of these things the right way.