April 8, 2014

Got eTrash?

4 minute read

By Scott Bureau
Apr 08 2014

​There are squatters lurking about your enterprise; an infestation of the electronic kind; an invited guest that has overstayed its welcome, taking up valuable space, consuming precious resources and preventing you from getting on with your work. Insidious, it lulls you into thinking ‘it’s just an innocent temp file, a backup from long ago, a system log long past its usefulness. What harm could it bring?’ But like too much plaque in the bloodstream it accumulates, clogging your shared drives and SharePoint sites, slowing down backups, polluting search results and waiting for the most inopportune time to reveal itself (to regulators and opposing counsel!).

What am I talking about?
I’m talking about eTrash! “E-what?” you say…
eTrash are documents and other unstructured content having no further business purpose nor continuing need to preserve it for regulatory or compliance reasons. It has many aliases: ROT (redundant, obsolete, and trivial), digital garbage, basura electronica. Whatever you choose to call it, shared drives, SharePoint sites and other content management systems are filled with it, abandoned, forgotten, ignored. Of course, there is nothing like that on your shared drives and SharePoint sites, right?
What does eTrash look like? Its temporary files and old backup files, sometimes system generated but often times stealthily hoarded by users, hidden outside the purview of IT. Its duplicate files, expired records, old system logs and obsolete application files (like that copy of WordPerfect you’ve kept just in case that Microsoft Word thing doesn’t catch on). Sometimes, it’s just really old files that have managed to outlast even the longest period of your retention schedule. No one knows what it is, who created it or why it is still around. Smell familiar?
How much eTrash is out there? I and my Gimmal colleagues have performed numerous content assessments over the past five years and based on that data we’ve calculated that on average, 30% of all content (total volume) stored on shared drives and SharePoint sites is eTrash. And that is a conservative estimate. A few clients’ eTrash volume exceeded 50%! Are you backing up eTrash and in the process creating more of it? Is eTrash adversely affecting the ‘findability’ of your documents? Does discovery of your eTrash pose an unanticipated business risk?
Have you ever spent a Saturday cleaning out your garage? I’m guessing it went something like this. First you identified and threw out all of the garbage. Next, you re-organized the remaining contents so that it was stored efficiently. If you did a thorough job you were actually able to park a vehicle inside of the garage. You were proud. You celebrated your achievement. All was well with the world. Then, little by little, the garbage started to pile up again. Items were not put back into their proper containers. Seats and tray tables not put back into their full upright position. And eventually, there was no longer room to park your vehicle. The next thing you know you’re being featured on the latest episode of Hoarders. What happened?
You did a great job of cleaning the garage but failed to plan how to keep it clean. At Gimmal, our tag line is “Information Management for Everyone.” However, information management doesn’t ‘just happen.’ You need a plan. And when it comes to managing information on shared drives and SharePoint, that plan must address cleaning up eTrash one time and insuring it doesn’t pile up again later.

Got eTrash?
eTrash is more than a nuisance. It diminishes knowledge worker productivity by polluting search results making it harder to find needed documents. Backup files are bloated with useless junk, wasting time, energy and resources to back up and restore content. eTrash lies in wait of that one eDiscovery request that will resuscitate it and leave you scratching your head and thinking, “Where did that come from?” Think you don’t have an eTrash issue? Think again. Nearly a third of all content on residing on corporate file shares and SharePoint sites is trash, garbage, ROT. And identifying eTrash on shared drives and SharePoint sites, cleaning it up and implementing a plan to keep clean it is an integral part of Gimmal’s Content Assessment offerings and Assessment, Transformation and Migration (ATM) practice. That’s how we roll! Got eTrash? Call Gimmal.

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