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I Know What You Did At the
End of the Retention Period


Nightmare on the Shared Drive*

Gather around the campfire with your mulled cider, cozy up in your fleece, and get ready for a dark tale of despair - just in time for Halloween.

Lizzie sipped her coffee in her home office, when she saw in the cup’s reflection: dark clouds creeping in. The sky blackened even though it was only four in the afternoon. Her boss emailed asking for the supplies vendor they used on a project three years ago. She remembered that it was a student worker who worked on it - Stephen? She tried searching her email by his name but nothing came up. Maybe she didn’t have the project emails anymore, she wondered, as the wind whirled and the branches shook.

jack-o-lantern with surgical maskShe tried searching her desktop for the name of the project. There were no results. Her heartbeat started to race as she opened their shared drive. If only she had told the student worker to place all the documents in a folder named by the project and filed by year. She tried searching the shared drive by his name with no luck (maybe he was Sean? Seth? Stacy?). She wandered down the folder structure, each nested sequence more complicated than the last, one web of confusion after another. There was a “Misc” folder. There was a “Misc documents” folder inside of the “Misc” folder!  Inside were folders titled “CORR” and “TBS” and “BST”. “I don’t know what those abbreviations are for!” she cried, though no one could hear her panic. All the rooms of the house had active Zoom calls and closed doors.

Her boss popped up on Teams “Lizzie, the vendor? My supervisor wants to know!” Clicking down into more electronic folders, she found a file titled “Drafts” from three years before. This seemed promising, were any of these similar to the final version? “FINAL_PLAN_DRAFT”, “DRAFT_FINAL_FINAL” “NEWEST_DRAFT_3”? “This is so confusing!” She howled. The crows outside caw’d-caw’d. Then she remembered, the student worker wasn’t Stephen with a “PH” it was Steven with a “V”. She searched her email and immediately found where she had approved the purchase from the vendor.

She exhaled and wrote her boss back. But she knew, this horror story had to end here. She knew she needed to use email folders. She needed to make her electronic folder structure better. She needed to get rid of old drafts, when a project was completed. She needed to call Records Management for help. She had to end this nightmare for good.

* Based on a true story.  Names and events have been changed to protect the privacy of the department.


Monster Mash

pumpkin with musical notes I was working in the lab, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab, began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise…

Now that y’all have the appropriate ear worm (it was a graveyard smash—whatever happened to the transitory tango?), we wanted to talk about something really scary: ROT! ROT (Redundant, Obsolete and Transitory records) makes up 80% of all information at the UW. green zombie silhouettesDon’t let ROT turn you and your records into zombies. Help us fight World War Z and get those ROT zombies under control.

Zombies never die! Check out our infographic to avoid a records apocalypse. And remember, zombies cannot be bribed by Halloween chocolate to help out in reducing ROT. But colleagues can! Don’t let ROT eat away your work day.


Don't Be Haunted By Your Zoom Recordings zoom recordings are about to become ghosts! Click here to check out our resource on managing Zoom and other conference recordings. Remember, not all of them are transitory, some have lasting retention and need to be managed accordingly.



Click here to watch the video on this new University-wide initiative.


Barbara Benson

Cara Ball

Emily Lemieux

Michael Mooney

Lynn O'Shea