How to Create an Effective Data Retention and Disposal Policy - Computer Disposal Limited
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How to Create an Effective Data Retention and Disposal Policy

To gain visibility and control over your information, developing an effective data retention and disposal policy is a must. However, with evolving regulations and complex data systems to contend with, creating a data retention policy is no mean feat.

And when you factor in that your business’ data is most probably spread across multiple applications and departments, things are bound to get even more complicated.

To keep track of your organisation’s most critical information and maintain its operations, we’ll define a data retention policy in more detail, explain why you need one and show you how to create an effective data retention policy with the help of a data retention policy template.

What is a data retention and disposal policy?

A data retention policy is a set of guidelines that helps organisations retain information for operational and regulatory compliance needs. It details how long information must be kept, along with how to dispose of the information when it’s no longer needed.

The policy should also outline the reasons for processing personal data. This ensures you have documented proof that justifies your data retention and disposal periods.

Why is a data retention and disposal policy necessary?

Since data can pile up quicker than you might think, your data retention policy should define how long an organisation must hold on to specific data.

And despite the draconian appearance of GDPR data retention periods (i.e., the amount of time that an organisation keeps a particular type of data), there are no rules on storage limitation. That said, an organisation should only retain data for as long as it’s needed. Retaining data longer than necessary can take up unnecessary storage space and ends up being more expensive in the long run.

woman looking at her computer screen

But there’s more to a data retention and disposal policy than simply ticking legal and compliance boxes. Because data is such an important asset, an effective policy can add real value to an entire business in the following ways:

In addition to the above, a data retention policy can answer questions about your business’ performance, allow you to plan for its future, and deal with inefficiencies. Simply put, an effective data retention policy can help you become a lean, agile organisation.

colleagues discussing plans

How to create an effective data retention and disposal policy

Creating a data retention policy can be challenging. Some organisations may find outsourcing the policy creation and implementation process a more feasible option. But for businesses looking to go the internal route, they should keep the below in mind.

First, you should know exactly what data you’re processing, what it’s being used for, and which regulations apply to your business.

These regulations include, but are not limited to, the GDPR. For example, if you process an individual’s debit or credit card information, you may be subject to the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

Likewise, if you intend to comply with ISO 27001 (the international standard that describes best practice for information security), then you must take note of its requirements. Requirements such as these will dictate what information must be included in your policy and the rules it should follow.

Generally, your data retention policy will address:

man looking at notes

In creating your data retention policy, you should carry out the following steps.

CDL is one of the UK’s leading IT disposal companies, working to help private and public businesses safely retire and recycle their outdated IT assets. To find out how we could help your business, or for more of the latest tech news and advice, visit our homepage or call our team today on 0333 060 2846.


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