Many companies retain multiple copies of ESI for long periods of time just in case they “might” need them. To the extent this means “just in case a catastrophe happens”, there are much easier and more cost-effective methods of preparing for a disaster, including ensuring that critical data are stored in network locations and backed up in a secure manner with media stored in a secure location. Disaster recovery generally refers to getting your business up and running again after a disaster strikes, whether natural or man-made. General “record” retention for completed projects is quite different. Look to the terms of your contract to see if there is a provision requiring retention for a specific time, such as to allow an audit. Also, look to see if “records” is defined. Do you need to retain every e-mail communication and document draft or just the final version? As a general rule, accounting records and contract documents should be retained at least five years following project completion. As with any business, project completion should include a protocol to clean out files, whether paper or electronic, before sending them to off-site storage or copying them to a hard drive.

You can read more at Information Governance (IG) Programs from Williams Mullen.

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