March 18, 2014 by Mitch Taube Categories: Document Management

Have you ever deleted a document or folder on your desktop without meaning to? We all have, and it’s not usually a problem because you can quickly retrieve and restore documents from the trash.

What about accidentally deleting a document or folder on a shared drive? Shared drives do not usually have a trash from which you can easily retrieve deleted documents. Instead, you have to restore deletions from the last backup – this isn’t terrible if your IT department backs up your shared drive daily, but what if it hasn’t been backed up recently? Even if it has, retrieval is painfully slow on a good day. And what if something was accidentally deleted and not noticed for several days or weeks?

Just ask the Veterans Administration, where 464,000 veteran home loan files were accidentally deleted. Only half of these documents were recovered.

Problem Cause: Document Access Rights

Document deletion is one of the most dangerous perils of storing documents in a shared drive. While sharing is useful, access rights to each folder are determined by whoever creates it and are rarely defined at the document level.

This allows more employees having access to shared drive files and folders than probably should and, the more people that have access, the higher the risk that documents are accidentally deleted.

Problem Solution: Document Management

Document management software and cloud solutions offer the ability to define document and folder level access rights in conjunction with the organization’s document retention policies. This mitigates the risk of accidental document deletion by allowing only certain individuals the ability to delete documents and sets of documents (e.g. managers).

Document Security to the Fifth Power

Because even managers can accidentally delete individual documents and sets, best-of-breed document management solutions route deleted documents to a trash folder, so they can be easily retrieved if necessary. As a third level of security, a different manager can be given access rights to empty the trash. As a fourth level of security, documents that have been emptied from the trash can be restored within a period of time, e.g. one week. Finally, best-of-breed document management software offers the ability to implement document retention schedules that dictate when a document or set of documents can be deleted with no ability to delete them before expiration of the retention date.

An Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure

At a minimum, document management access rights help eliminate the need to back-up shared drive data and having to restore anything. Best-of-breed document management helps you prevent unwanted deletions and human error in the first place, with document security to the fifth power so you can avoid a similar fate of the VA. The ability to set document access rights also has the side benefit of helping you avoid fines by ensuring industry/legal document retention compliance.

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