Clean Up ROT! Make ECM Really Work For Your Company

Holding on to items you don’t need around the house can cause a lot of clutter. Outdated paper documents, unwanted hostess gifts, broken knick-knacks you may or may not get around to gluing back together – usually it’s all just junk. Plus, going through it tends to get stuck on the bottom of your to-do list.  

But, even if you understand the necessity to clean old items out of your home once in a while, you might have a different opinion on virtual files residing on your company server. Sure, there might be a few redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) files there, but they are not taking up any REAL physical space, right? They’re not getting dusty or creating a fire hazard. And, you KNOW as soon as you delete something, you’re probably going to need it. So, what’s the danger of keeping them? 

Actually, holding on to unnecessary files could be harmful to your organization’s health. A study by AIIM Market Intelligence found that only an estimated 42% of electronically stored information is useful to a business, according to respondents. That means more than half of stored files are ROT taking up valuable and expensive space on a company server. Not instituting an information governance program includes a higher risk of data breaches or information exposure.  

Getting rid of ROT files requires a little more in-depth work than holding a sale in your front yard, but taking steps to clean up your servers now can save you costly storage space or potential security risks later.  

Cleaning Tip #1: Sweep Your Servers
Even if you worry about deleting information you’ll need later, keeping files that are redundant or obsolete doesn’t benefit your business. The important first step is to find the files that ARE valuable and worth saving. 

Finding ROT files typically requires software tools designed to weed out unnecessary or duplicate data. The best software uses an algorithm to locate and identify duplicate files that can then be marked for deletion. Creating company-wide taxonomy practices can help categorize documents and cut down on useless information going forward. 

Cleaning Tip #2: When in Doubt, Throw It Out
Files on your server are not like fine wines and cheeses – they don’t get better with age. Keeping drafts of documents that are no longer valid can cause doubt about current versus past versions and can result in costly and embarrassing business mistakes.  

Removing unnecessary data and shrinking the number of files available on your network makes finding information quicker and easier. Assigning date thresholds to files can prevent old documents from creating confusion and clutter. 

Cleaning Tip #3: Keep Up, Don’t Catch Up
Finding, shrinking, and sorting files that no longer provide value to your business organizes data hierarchy, streamlines infrastructure, and cuts costs and server space. When it’s time to move your data or invest in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) conversion, you’ll be ahead of the game, leaving ROT and clutter in the dust.