​Most of us are very organized and like to keep records thinking that the information may be useful in the future. This can be a good practice in some cases, but often that data can become a liability if kept past the data retention policies as set forth by UT Policy FI0120 – Records Management, as well as applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

Here are some reasons you should NOT keep data past the required time period:

  1. Possibility of compromise – If storing the data electronically, the computer could be hacked and the data stolen. Even if the data is older, it could still be used maliciously. Although we typically no longer use Social Security numbers, just think of the problems that would occur if all those numbers were still being stored on our computers.
  2. Lack of storage space – Whether you are storing data physically or electronically, space is at a premium. If you store paper records in your office, you will eventually run out of space. If you are storing data on your computer’s hard drive or an external hard drive, you will run out of space. If you are storing on T-Storage, you will run out of space and may have to request additional storage space. Either way, this could cost your department money.
  3. Confusing old records with current records – Sure, you can look at the last date modified if you have several files of a similar name. But if you open the file and save it, out of habit, you have just changed the last date modified.
  4. Legal Issues – You are required by law to keep certain records for a specified period of time. However, if you keep some records longer than required you may be exposing yourself and the Institute to litigation risks and you may be violating privacy rights.
  5. Backups – We must do regular backups of our electronic data. However, we do NOT need to keep all the old copies of the backups. Keep a few more recent backups, just in case you run into problems. However, get rid of your old backups. This points to all of the above items for why you should do so.

Always keep data the required amount of time by following UT Policy FI0120 – Records Management, as well as any other laws and regulations that are applicable to the data you have. Follow the UTIA Media Protection Plan to keep the data secure during retention and destruction.