What is record management? Should electronic records be treated any differently than paper-based records?

Record management is the process of storing and indexing records, as of a company or organization, so that information can be easily accessed later. In contrast to paper-based records, copies of electronic records should be made frequently to ensure the records' safety.

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Record management is exactly what one would expect from its name: the process of controlling, organizing, and storing the records of a company, public body, or individual. Record management ensures that information can be retrieved efficiently on demand.

There are clearly several important elements of electronic records that make them...

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Record management is exactly what one would expect from its name: the process of controlling, organizing, and storing the records of a company, public body, or individual. Record management ensures that information can be retrieved efficiently on demand.

There are clearly several important elements of electronic records that make them superior to paper-based records. One is that they require very little storage space. A roomful of documents can be replaced by a tiny hard drive. Another is that the records are much easier to search. Instead of complex indexing systems, one can simply type in a search term or document number to access the relevant information immediately. These advantages mean that it is tempting to store data for longer, and indeed, where there is likely to be some advantage to doing this, files can be kept indefinitely. However, the convenience of electronic data should not be used as an excuse for hoarding useless files forever.

Unless there is a fire, flood, or other serious catastrophe, a paper-based archive is unlikely to be destroyed. However, it is all too easy for electronic data to be erased, either by malice or by mistake. It is therefore of vital importance to keep back-up copies (ideally several, in different locations) of all electronic data.

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