I couldn’t help but nod my head reading Brett Trout’s post about corporate packrats today.
Does your company still have “floppy” disks in storage? Is your company storing invoices from the 80?s? If so, it is time for a little spring cleaning. The cost of cleaning your electronic house is actually quite small compared with the cost of reading, searching, sorting and producing all of these “dead” files in event your company is ever sued.
My head nodding came from being involved in a few cases already where a client has tapes that they no longer have a compatible drive for, or database files on removable storage that they no longer have the database software for. Certainly our attorneys would try to make the case that retrieving this data is unduly burdensome, but there’s always the chance that the court is going to find differently, so I can’t help but wonder why they’d bother to keep this stuff.
Of course, just a few years ago, that was me. Working for a small company, with no document retention policy, and no budget to properly destroy old backup tapes. Back then, and still today, the fear was how much a data breach from improperly disposed of media would kill your tech career. Since there was no budget to pay someone to do it properly, and since there were about 10 more pressing issues, those tapes got tossed into a file cabinet drawer, locked and forgotten. No data breach worries there!
Of course, now it’s 2008 and I work in the legal industry. I know full well there is a risk in that file cabinet. It may be small, but it is real, and very expensive! Had I known that then, I might have moved “disposing of backup tapes properly” up the priority list just a tad, not to mention “develop a retention policy”, but I surely would have run into issues getting that paid for. Probably would have best just to take a hammer to the cartridge, and a razor to the tape. 😉