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How does your company retain former employee data?

Posted on 2016-09-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-10-16
Hello EE,

Due to managers requesting former employee data and legal requirements of retaining data, how does your company retain data from former employees:
1. Keep on the network - fills up unnecessary space for people gone and no longer using.
2. Burn off do DVD - few have anymore
3. Keep on USB - how do you track
4. Put on network share and backup - record date of backup so can go back to?
I am open to others and wanting input from others as we design ours.
Question by:operationsIT
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LVL 98

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41823517
Electronic files are kept in a Server folder. HR is responsible for deleting over time.
Paper files are kept secured and shredded over time.

Record retention for this kind of stuff (like Financial data) is seven years.

I would not keep on removable media or devices that can get lost or potentially stolen.
LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 41823527
Software changes continuously and what was state of the art ten years ago is today obsolete and unreadable when software companies decide there is no longer a need to be able to import data from six revisions back.

Rewriting records onto a new system periodically entails a couple months of time of somebody who knows the old system and somebody who knows the new system.

Magnetic media such as disk and tape degrade over time and so do writable CDs and DVDs.

Archival records are best kept on paper.  It will keep for up to 100 years without special care.
LVL 98

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41823535
I partly agree. Any document created with Office (then) is readily readable today (Office now). Keeping on a Server folder as suggested above allow easy and safe migration to a new server.  

I agree with you about paper.

So the two best methods (in combination) are server and paper file records.
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 41823565
Those are usually just small text or spreadsheet documents, or inside a database. They don't take up a terrible amount of space on your server. It's not like videos or pictures etc which probably waste lots more space on your server. So the server or backup space should be the least of your worries.

Author Comment

ID: 41823850
So your file server grows and grows with folders of former employees who are gone?   We have archive mail files that can be multiple GB
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 41823894
I don't think the law requires you to keep all the correspondence of the former employees. It's more the documents you had about him, things the HR department would need, or things like his salary and payment records, when he was on sick leave etc.

His other things like business correspondence etc should be forwarded to his successor and he would then decide what need to be kept and what can be discarded.
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 41824492
probably easiest to have a disk assigned to such data; you can make it a fixed, or removable one
LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 41824822
Long term archives still have to be maintained.  What you consider large now, will seem minuscule later on.  People will just send higher resolution images in email to make up for it.  Some of them will probably include video signatures in the future.

Assuming you're a small to mid sized company and need to maintain data longer term, get 2 cheap external drives and copy the archive to them and take one off site.  You can leave one on the network.  Keep important, recent data on your faster RAID and move archival stuff off to the slower single disk.  When those archival disks fill up, buy newer, larger disks and transfer the data.  This keeps the archive maintained.  In 3-5 years time you'll need to buy new disks, whether or not those disks have filled up.  This forces you to "maintain" your archives.  

I don't recommend DVDs as they're much too small capacity.  Blue Ray might be better, but you'll have to transfer the data eventually, and it's much slower and less convenient than disk.  In any case, my experience with offline media, like tape and discs is that people eventually ignore them.  The data won't be readable, because they just don't maintain the equipment, or they'll be incompatible with future interfaces.  If you also don't store them in a cool, dry place, they're worthless.  Larger organizations might hire someone to transfer data to newer media, but many smaller companies just find them later and sometimes just toss them out.  I remember, long ago, spending several weeks, in between other tasks, transferring hundreds of CDs back to disk, because someone wanted to save the data and shred the CDs that were taking up space.

Author Comment

ID: 41845367
Ok all great suggestions.  Are they the processes you are using at your company and how big are you small, mid or large?
LVL 98

Accepted Solution

John Hurst earned 2000 total points
ID: 41845583
I posted how I do things in https:#a41823535 and the combined approach can work for any size of company.

There is no one single way to do this.

What else do you need at this point?

Author Closing Comment

ID: 41845615
I just wanted to make sure that this was being done in a company and worked for you.  In the past I got good suggestions and when I awarded was told it was a one person company.  Thank you!
LVL 98

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41845616
You are very welcome and thank you for following up.

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