August 5, 2010 – Most enterprises (87 percent) believe a proper information retention strategy should allow them to delete unnecessary information, but less than half (46 percent) actually have a formal information retention plan in place, according to the results of Symantec’s “2010 Information Management Health Check Survey.”

Survey results also demonstrate that too many enterprises save information indefinitely instead of implementing policies that allow them to confidently delete unimportant data or records, and therefore suffer from rampant storage growth, unsustainable backup windows, increased litigation risk and expensive and inefficient discovery processes. The result is that businesses spend far more time and money on the negative consequences of poor information management and discovery practices than they would by working to change them.

Enterprises recognize the value of an information management plan, but too many still follow the outdated practice of keeping everything forever, according to Brian Dye, vice president of product management, Information Management Group, Symantec. "Infinite retention results in infinite waste. The sheer volume of data is growing exponentially, so trying to keep everything consumes large amounts of storage space and demands too much of IT's resources," he was quoted to say.

The survey found that 75 percent of backup storage consists of infinite retention or legal hold backup sets. Respondents also stated that 25 percent of the data they back up is not needed for business or should not be kept in a backup. Additionally, 70 percent of enterprises use their backup software to implement legal holds and 25 percent preserve the entire backup set indefinitely. Respondents said 45 percent of backup storage comes from legal holds alone.

Sean Regan, director of marketing, Information Management Group, Symantec says that the survey results confirm what is seen in organizations around the world every day. “In lieu of an information retention plan, the survey found that organizations are keeping everything forever ‘just in case’ with a quarter of the information not needed for business and shouldn’t be retained.”

The consequences of such practices are costly and harmful to the organization. Storage costs are skyrocketing as over retention has created an environment where it is now 1,500 times more expensive to review data than it is to store it. Also, backup windows are increasing while recovery times have become prohibitive. And, with the massive amounts of information stored on difficult-to-access backup tapes, e-discovery has become a lengthy, inefficient and costly exercise.

Regan believes that through proper backup and archiving practices, businesses can do backup without a mountain of tape and discovery and without spending a mountain of money.

The survey was conducted in June 2010 and is based on responses from 1,680 senior IT and legal executives in 26 countries.

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