Managing records in a "keep it all" environment

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Retaining all records, indefinitely, presents some serious issues of space, whether physical or digital

16 May 2018 mins
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Daily tasks are becoming increasingly challenging for records managers who are working in a "keep it all" environment. Some organisations must keep all records indefinitely. In this environment, some of the biggest concerns will be storage space and find-ability.

Storage Tiering

Retaining all records, indefinitely, presents some serious issues of space, whether physical or digital. For physical or digital space, many organisations in a "keep it all" environment leverage a concept called "tiered storage." This type of storage system requires Records Managers to determine the current importance of records and categorises them into several tiers. Frequently accessed records would be "Tier 1" or "Tier A" records, while less frequently accessed records would be "Tier 2" or "Tier B", and so on. The number of tiers would have to depend on the organisation's specific needs

Physical Storage

Physical storage of records in a "keep it all" environment can be challenging because the mandate of "keep it all" often does not come with an infinite amount of storage space in which to "keep it all." This is often the impetus for digitisation projects, many of which often start with a "day 1 forward" approach, meaning that every newly created record starting on the day the digitisation project is launched will be digitised. Often a "day 1 forward" approach is later augmented with an archive digitisation process, which can be time consuming and may take years or even decades to complete.

Digital Storage

Storage of electronic records in a "keep it all" environment can also be incredibly challenging, as the mandate of "keep it all" often does not come with infinite funding with which to purchase storage media or cloud storage. This is why a tiered storage strategy becomes so critical in these organisations. A tiered strategy for digital storage will make newer or frequently leveraged records available in electronic records management systems, with lower tiers leveraging less expensive storage options such as tape storage, microfilm storage or microfiche storage.


A tiered-storage strategy is only as strong as the ability to both find and retrieve records. This type of system requires a records management team to both evaluate and fulfil records requests from a variety of media and storage locations (including third-party vendors).

Keep It All

While the "keep it all" strategy can complicate matters when it comes to managing records, it doesn't change the core principles of Records Management. Though these environments may be increasingly complex, it's important to remember that the mandates are not flexible, and providing a comprehensive Records Management strategy in a "keep it all" environment should flow from an overall information strategy or information governance plan.