We’ll Keep Most Electronic Material Forever

Many laws and regulations require that certain types of information be kept for specified periods. This is fueling the need for the archiving of information along with associated retention polices.

Conflicting pressure comes from legal counsel, which wants information to be destroyed as quickly as possible to reduce exposure and the substantial costs of responding to e-discovery requests.

In the fullness of time most organizations will keep almost all of their electronic content (excluding spam, for example) for an arbitrarily long period because of the cheapness of storage, the expense of deleting material, and the value of holding on to material in case it is useful. Retention policies will gradually become less of a burning issue.

... David Ferris

One Comment

  1. Posted November 6, 2009 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    Hi David,

    Great post as always. I would love to see a survey of email archiving deployments to-date. From the 100s of customers I’ve visited over the years, I’d venture to guess that > 90% are retaining all data forever, consistent with your analysis.


  2. David Gaynon
    Posted November 6, 2009 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

    David … when you say forever do you mean after the sun goes supernova or are you just suggesting 10 years or so which in our fast moving world seems like forever.

  3. dferris
    Posted November 6, 2009 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    David–answering your question, I meant until the source of energy for digital memory fails. All things being equal, I expect our grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to browse these traces of life, subject to the appropriate data format translators being available. And subject to their having an extremely high tolerance for the tedious minutiae of quotidian existence.

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