What are the Best Tips for Electronic Records Retention?

Keith Koons

Electronic records retention is nothing more than setting up a system to backup important data within a workplace, and the good news is that much of it can be accomplished automatically under the proper setup. Many businesses make the mistake of backing up their valuable documents to multiple servers, however, which could create hundreds or even thousands of duplicate files that take up space and ultimately slow down the server. The same can be said for traditional backups like paperwork and compact disks—it makes absolutely no sense to keep repetitive backups once a sound electronic records retention system is implemented. A professional with Internet technology experience is normally sought to set up such a system, and since online backup is normally part of the electronic records retention package, the information should be protected forever.

Online backup can keep a company's information secure during a catastrophic event like a tornado.
Online backup can keep a company's information secure during a catastrophic event like a tornado.

Before implementing an electronic records retention program, it is important for users to consider exactly what needs to be stored in multiple locations. For example, business files that are accessed by many employees throughout the day should be saved on each individual computer system, but files dealing with former clients or tax information should be safely tucked away on a mainframe computer since this type of file is rarely needed. Another important function of an electronic records retention program is the ability to purge unnecessary files after a certain period of time to keep the overall network as clutter-free as possible. Not only do these tasks help streamline the speed at which information can be distributed throughout the workplace, but it also sets standards for each employee to adhere to when dealing with company data.

Another critical aspect of electronic records retention is to implement an automatic backup that occurs at regular intervals, and this task can be set to run weekly, daily, or even by the minute when necessary. Besides placing files on a centralized server, many corporations also implement backups to external drives, remote drives, or a compact disk (CD) to ensure that the data always exists in two separate, independent locations. While for many, this process would seem unnecessary, an overload within an electrical circuit could effectively erase every hard drive within a company. Online backup has grown especially popular since the data is stored within a different geographical region—so even if a catastrophic event like a hurricane or tornado destroyed every single piece of hardware, the company’s information would still remain secure.

Another smart aspect of electronic records retention is to physically verify that the backups did, in fact, take place, because something as simple as a damaged Ethernet cord could prevent information from being properly saved. Many businesses mistakenly assume that automatic backups are immune from mishap, but that simply is not the case. Individuals should always verify the data is properly backed up at least monthly or whenever a new file or program is implemented.

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