Whether you use shared folders or keep files on your personal drive, eventually others in your organization will need to find some of the files that you’ve created or saved. Electronic searches help some but it’s still important to file your ad-hoc documents carefully if you ever hope to find them again. In order to help the rest of your team members (especially future team members) understand your new filing system, I strongly recommend creating a very small file in each folder describing the:

  • purpose of the folder
  • owner of the folder
  • intended audience and users of the folder – who should and should not have access
  • retention period – how long should we generally keep the documents in the folder

If you name the file _readme.txt, the underline will cause the file to sort itself to the top of the list where everyone can find it. Here’s an example of one I created to describe the folder where I hold my InfoSec Tips drafts. _readme.txt

When deciding on the appropriate retention period, refer to your organizational Retention Policy for guidance. And remember that “forever” is technically possible but outrageously expensive for electronic documents. Westfield is 159 years old. If they say that a document should be kept “forever”, they are handing their IT department a blank check to spend whatever it takes to make sure that the document will still be here in another 159 years. There aren’t very many documents with that kind of business need. Make your best estimate of the realistic business need for the documents in the folder. Also remember that saying you want to keep a document for 12 months does not mean that it will be automatically deleted. You (or someone in your organization) will still have to clean out the folder when the documents are no longer necessary.

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