5 Reasons Your Files and Records are ROT(ting)


Redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) information likely dominates your content stores.  Whether it’s your network file shares, EFSS locations such as Box and Dropbox, or even your email accounts, a large portion of content and records is essentially useless. While storage of this information may not be expensive on a relative scale, keeping it makes the information harder to search for and retrieve, increases the cost of eDiscovery, and leads to the wrong data being used, or worse, increases the risks for sensitive data breaches. 

We collect data from organizations every day to understand why information governance problems exist, and there are generally five reason your files are ROT(ting). 

Five Reasons Your Files are ROT(ting)

1. Users don’t know where to save content

You’ve created a new file in Microsoft Word a while ago. You’re ready to head home and need to quickly save your file so you can make it to the school in time to pick up your child. You don’t have time to browse the network for similar files, or you’ve never saved this type of file to SharePoint before and are not sure of the right location. What do you do? Most likely, you’ll save it to one of three places: your desktop, the root of your OneDrive/Box/Dropbox account, or your network user share. 

However, none of these are the right location. If you want people to save files to the right location, you need to make it easy and you need to train them on the steps to do it right.  

 2. Users don’t know what metadata to tag on content. 

You’re ready to save a file, already know where it is supposed to go, try to save it, but then a screen appears asking you to enter 10 pieces of metadata in order to save the file. There’s a good chance you’ll save it somewhere else. People have a job to do, and unless their particular tasks are relevant to all the metadata they are asked to enter, they may not do it. 

Make sure to only ask for necessary metadata. Does it drive workflow? Is it a necessary facet in search? Does it specify a specific case? If not, there may be a better way to gather and classify the information. Semantic technologies, background processes, and linked data may reduce the need for metadata to be entered. 

 3. No common retention rules 

While records should be stored in a proper repository, with the right metadata, and classified to a file plan, most of the content in an organization does not fall into this category. Often known as “transient data”, this is data that is useful for a period of time, but it does not require any special retention rules, security concerns, or privacy information. However, this information still needs to have common retention rules to ensure it doesn’t become ROT. Organizations should take this seriously and add common retention rules to every location possible including email, enterprise file sync and share (EFSS), messaging platforms, and users shares. 

Ultimately, users will not clean up their own information, and common retention is one way to enforce it and implement it. 

 4. Spoliation concerns 

Your organization spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement the perfect records management program. Just as much was spent on the software and implementation. The information lifecycle rules are being executed and it’s time to review the first set of records for disposition. Notices are sent to the necessary parties, including your legal team, and they won’t approve the records to be destroyed. If we had a dime for every time we’ve heard “legal needs to approve disposition so they can decide if the files need to be held”, we would be writing this from our own personal beach. 

Spoliation should be a concern, but it shouldn’t be the reason disposition is being held up on large amounts of records that have reached end of life. Legal hold practices need to be put in place to hold data when the first need arises, rather than waiting until disposition review to make these decisions. Legal review of disposition is okay as a check to ensure no mistakes were made, but it shouldn’t be the start of the process for placing holds on information. 

 5. No cleanup tools 

Even if you have resolved the first four reasons, your organization still needs to invest in tools and methods to clean up content.  The good news is that these tools get much less expensive if you’ve resolved the other reasons. Not only is there less content to worry about, but the time needed to use the tools is significantly reduced. 

When looking for software solutions to help, be sure it can work on all your data sources such as network file servers, laptops, workstations, email, EFSS, and content management systems. 

For more information on how Gimmal Discover can help you eliminate ROT, schedule a personalized demonstration here.