Backup vendor advocates digital disposal September 8, 2010

Software vendor Symantec recently reported on the results of its 2010 Information Management Health Check Survey. A key finding of the survey is that backup systems are being misused as indefinite storage for digital records.

Restore From Backup, a horror novella by J.F. Gonzalez and Michael Oliveri, recently published by Bad Moon Books.

Restore From Backup, a horror novella. Photograph by Roscoe Ellis.

Symantec estimates that seventy-five percent of backup storage comprises material that is being retained ‘infinitely’ or is subject to a legal hold.

This misuse of backup systems drives up costs and lengthens backup windows. As a solution for legal discovery, backup storage is inefficient because accessing material on backup tapes is cumbersome and slow, making e-discovery a very costly exercise.

[I]t’s the fear of deleting important records that keeps enterprises from moving away from the outdated strategy of simply keeping everything forever.

To address this problem, Symantec stresses the importance of an ‘information management plan’ (something acknowledged as important by nearly ninety percent of respondents to the survey, but implemented by less than half), the creation of formal retention policies, the routine deletion of digital records according to those policies, and to stop using backup for ‘archiving and legal holds’.

State Records NSW requires that digital State records are captured into recordkeeping systems. Backup systems should not be used for this purpose (see section 2.3 of Managing Digital Records (Guideline 22) for reasons why). For guidance on the appropriate destruction of digital records, see section 1.6 of Managing Digital Records.

More information about Symantec’s survey is available at:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.