Spring clean your servers

Spring clean your dark data
The first signs of spring inspire a thorough clean around the home. Why not bring this seasonal practice to the office too? These days it’s not the cupboards and filing cabinets you need to clear out, but the documents gathering digital dust on your company servers and cloud services. 
 

Bringing dark data into the light
 

It sounds sinister but dark data is something we all accumulate daily. Have you ever downloaded a document on a server and saved a version locally? Do you save multiple versions of word documents? When was the last time you hung on to a spreadsheet because you thought the data might come in handy later? We all create dark data; the danger arises when we don’t manage it.
 

Daylight savings
 

Although the cost of storage is declining, this doesn’t mean the amount you store should go up. Bad habits such as these are a significant waste of resources. The International Data Corporation estimates that as much as 80 percent of consumer data that companies store is what they term “garbage”. Imagine how much could be saved on direct storage costs if this were reduced? 
 
More worryingly, dark data could be very costly when GDPR comes into force. If you’ve stowed away personally identifiable information and it leaks, you could be looking at a fine of up to four percent of global turnover. 
 

Open season on dark data 
 

If you embark on a big clean-up, get everyone involved. Educate your employees about what dark data is and where it could be lurking. Then get everyone to pitch in by clearing out their own folders. Once you’ve tidied up, it’s time for a deep clean; file level analysis software can help with this. Rather than simply looking the date stamp and creator, this software sifts through documents to understand the value of the content. 
 

Summer autumn and winter
 

This isn’t an annual endeavour; try to be an information manager for all seasons! Every form and document used by your organization should belong to a business process with a responsible owner. That means that there’s one person in each department who controls the data created. You could even make storage part of a department’s budget, providing an incentive to stop dark data accumulating.
  
As well as managing departments, keep tabs on individuals. For example, when someone leaves a business, they tend to clear their desks but leave mounds of incomprehensible data behind. Do you have a policy in place for managing this data?   
Set up these systems once you’ve scrubbed the archives clean and the job will only be easier next year.
 

Is your business in the dark? 
 

Data protection laws are only getting stricter, and the fines for not following them correctly more painful. Let us know if you need a helping hand with clearing out your dark data. Our information audits can help you understand the data you’ve got and our consultants will help you set up a system to manage it for the future and avoid build-ups. Contact us today for more information. 
 
To learn more about dark data and its impact on businesses, read our white paper “Shining a light on dark data”.