Companies produce a considerable amount of digital data every day, including reports, invoices, emails, and other documents. So, what happens if you accidentally delete an important file? You could lose that file forever. You can even be hit by ransomware in the worst-case scenario and lose access to all files in your database. The solution? Versioning and a strong retention policy.
What Is Versioning?
Versioning, also known as version control, is creating and storing multiple versions of the same files. It is used to keep track of both digital documents and software.
To make it easier to check for previous versions of a file, they have a number. If you see a file with version 3.1, for example, you know that versions 3.0 or below are older, while any version from 3.1.1 and forward has been updated.
The first number indicates significant improvements or changes in the document, while the second is a minor revision. A possible third or fourth digit indicates further minor modifications.
An example could be a plan to devise a new product. When it is still a prototype, you would most likely label it as version 0.1, then 0.2, 0.2.1 (after minor tweaks), and then finally 1.0 when it is ready for launch. After the first update, your product files would be 1.1 or even 2.0 if it is a significant overhaul.
The main advantage of versioning is how it helps you organize your documents. It also allows you to backup each version, so you have copies should one be lost.
Similar systems had existed since the 1960s, back when the first computers were used to process and store data.
How Does A Retention Policy Work?
Suppose versioning is the act of creating different versions of a document. In that case, a retention policy is a holistic policy that determines these records’ lifecycle. By using it, you can determine how much time your company should keep a file before deletion.
Some firms deal with this problem by keeping records of everything forever. However, this will quickly turn into a problem. A new company can get away with it for some years, but it will need an insane amount of space if nothing is ever erased. Also, it makes it harder to find information because there’s much more of it to go through.
It is crucial to coordinate different departments and define timelines for keeping these documents to establish an efficient retention policy. You will also need to use versioning file software. It helps to create backup files and keep the organization simple without costing too many human resources.
The process takes time. However, it’s well worth it because of the security that it provides in the long-term.
The Reasons Why You Should Care About Having a Retention Policy
While implementing an effective retention policy may seem costly and complicated, the results are undeniably positive.
It protects your company from losing access to your files and helps it to be compliant with rules and regulations that may affect your business if you do not keep records of your activities. It even protects you against human error or damages to your hardware that may cause the loss of information.
Versioning Also Helps Protect You from Ransomware
The most immediate advantage of using versioning systems is to be protected from the dreaded ransomware attacks, which are getting more common every day. Researchers are already warning that ransomware attacks may have risen seven-fold compared to last year.
According to them, the technology used by hackers continues to evolve as they devise new threats. Some of the most popular ransomware used last year was dropped this year in favor of more aggressive versions.
So, it is impossible to be protected without investing heavily in cybersecurity and having a backup if something terrible does happen.
Sometimes, these attacks can cost thousands or even millions of dollars to companies. The larger your company is, the more expensive the ransom will be.
However, if you use specialized software as part of your retention policy, you will likely have several copies of your documents in the cloud. In the worst cases, you may end up losing a few days of work, but it is still not as tragic as having to pay millions of dollars to be able to run your business.
You need to remove the ransomware, reformat your drive, and as soon as your system is clean, you are ready to download the files again.
Retention Policies May Help You to Be Compliant with The Law
Another primary reason to instate a retention policy is to be compliant with local guidelines involving data retention. All companies need to provide reports about financial transactions. Depending on your region, you may need to keep records for years. If you do not, you may be subject to hefty fines. It’s easy to lose old files, so the system helps you to organize.
The information you need to keep depends on which industry you are a part of and in which state your business is based. These rules may even change in specific situations. So, it is vital to take the time to set up a plan.
Protection Against Accidents
Accidents are possibly the most common reason why companies ever use backup files. They can be divided into two types: human error and hardware failure.
In the first case, an employee makes a mistake and ends up deleting information that was not meant to be erased. Sometimes, you can get it back, but your chances will be slim if nobody immediately sees the error.
If you keep all your files in dedicated hardware without backup, your hard drive can stop functioning one day, and you will lose everything. Using new hardware can help avoid issues, but it’s not a guaranteed solution, as even new hard drives can malfunction.
How to Implement a Successful Retention Policy
Creating a set of retention policies is hard work, but you can do it by following these steps:
- Determine a versioning software: Start by picking software that will do most of the hard work for you. You need one that offers cloud-based services (to have a backup) and tools that will help you to organize different versions of the files. You should also look for a system that enables remote access to the files and uses two-factor authentication to increase security and usability.
- Identify the necessary regulations: Begin by understanding what kind of federal and local regulations you must follow. List them and pay attention to the documents that they require. How old can these documents be? It will help you to understand when you can finally delete your old files.
- Select essential documents: You also need to create versions of other crucial documents for business operations.
- Group the records: After you have selected all the records, group them into a logical order. The specific grouping is up to you, but do it so that most people accessing the system will not have to lose much time browsing before finding what they need. Organizing them by departments or projects is a good idea.
- Organize information about the files: Finish the process by gathering information such as their retention period of the files, any special security measures related to them, and how to proceed when the retention period is finished.
- Revise policies continually: Efficiency is at the heart of any successful business venture. By holding periodic reviews about how the policies are implemented, you can keep them compliant and working well. Remember that regulations can change quickly. Significant changes in your operations, such as venturing into new industries, states, or projects, may also trigger revisions.
Use Triofox To Manage Your Data
Triofox is a software that offers solutions for customers who need to protect their servers’ data. It adds ransomware protection and alerts to your file server. It will monitor the Triofox clients and automatically shuts them down if it sees a possible attack. It also sends an alert to the administrator when it detects the threat from the server-side and adds versioning and offsite backup of your file server, allowing you to recover from any attacks or accidental deletions. Triofox allows you to define your own retention policy based on your industry’s requirements and compliance.
Signup for a demo today to learn more and get access to one of the best versioning systems in the market right now.