The Importance of Data Retention Policies

Last Updated:
April 1, 2020
Ole Jensen
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As the amount of data being produced grows every single day, the job of managing high quantities of data from disparate applications becomes more challenging. Stored data must be accessible for business and legal purposes, while keeping in mind the threats of data breaches and liabilities associated with keeping information for too long.

In order to ensure that data is held securely, accessibly and for no longer than necessary, organizations can greatly benefit from developing data retention policies. The term “data retention” refers to the ongoing storage of an organization’s data in a way that complies with regulations and makes it easily recoverable in the event of a data loss.

A data retention policy can provide a set of guidelines for securely archiving data and establishing for how long it should be saved. It can also help an organization reduce data storage costs while simultaneously making data accessible when necessary.

Data Retention Policy Best Practices

The following best practices can help to make the most of a data retention policy:

  • Determine the primary purpose of the data retention policy.
  • Clearly define what data is affected by the data retention policy.
  • Organize the data by type, such as names and payment histories, in order to more easily apply different compliance requirements on sets of data.
  • Determine how long different types of data must be kept, and purge it as soon as it is no longer necessary.
  • Determine what legal requirements apply to the data being stored for both data retention and removal.
  • Inform and educate all employees on the data retention policy to ensure that everyone remains compliant on an individual level.