A majority of enterprises are not following their own advice when it comes to information management, with 87% respondents to Symanetc's 2010 Information Management Health Check Survey believing in the value of a formal information retention plan, but only 46% actually having one.

Survey results also found that too many enterprises save information indefinitely instead of implementing policies that allow them to confidently delete unimportant data or records, and therefore suffer from rampant storage growth, unsustainable backup windows, increased litigation risk and expensive and inefficient discovery processes.
“Infinite retention results in infinite waste. Enterprises see the value of a solid information management plan, but too many still follow the outdated practice of keeping everything forever,” says Sheldon Hand, storage specialist at Symantec. “The sheer volume of data is growing exponentially, so trying to keep everything consumes large amounts of storage space and demands too much of IT's resources.  As a result, businesses spend far more time and money on the negative consequences of poor information management and discovery practices than they would by working to change them.”
Survey highlights include:
* Gap between enterprise information management goals and practice – most enterprises (87%) believe a proper information retention strategy should allow them to delete unnecessary information. However, less than half (46%) actually have a formal information retention plan in place.
* Enterprises are retaining far too much information – 75% of backup storage consists of infinite retention or legal hold backup sets. Respondents also stated that 25% of the data they back up is not needed for business or should not be kept in a backup.
* Enterprises are misusing backup, recovery and archiving practices – 70% of enterprises use their backup software to implement legal holds and 25% preserve the entire backup set indefinitely. Respondents said 45% of backup storage comes from legal holds alone. In addition, enterprises cited that, on average, 40% of information placed on legal hold is not specifically relevant for that litigation. Using archiving and backup together provides immediate access to the most pertinent information while allowing enterprises to retain less.
* Nearly half of the enterprises surveyed are improperly using their backup and recovery software for archiving – additionally, while 51% prohibit employees from creating their own archives on their local machines and shared drives, 65% admit that employees routinely do so anyway.
* Differences in how IT and legal respondents cited top issues for lack of an information retention plan – 41% of IT administrators don’t see a need for a plan, 30% said no one is chartered with that responsibility, and 29% cited cost. Legal cited the top issues as cost (58%), lack of expertise to build a plan (48%), and no one chartered with the responsibility (40%).
The consequences of these information management missteps are severe and far-reaching:
* Storage costs are skyrocketing as over retention has created an environment where it is now 1 500 times more expensive to review data than it is to store it, highlighting why proper deletion policies and efficient search capabilities are critical for enterprise organisations.
* Backup windows are soaring while recovery times have become prohibitive.
* With the massive amounts of information stored on difficult-to-access backup tapes, e-discovery has become a lengthy, inefficient and costly exercise.
Symantec recommends that enterprise regain control of their information – and the costs of waiting for the perfect plan are far outweighed by the benefits of being proactive.