IT Tips & Tricks

Published 2 November 2021

Does Your Data Spark Joy?

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“Does it spark joy?” This question is asked by Marie Kondo, star of the hit Netflix series, Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo, which has helped thousands of people embrace the act of cleaning and organizing the “stuff” threatening to take over their lives. It’s a catchphrase Marie uses to help you determine what stays and what goes. We hope that your upcoming data migration isn’t going to take over your life, but cleaning and organizing your data is part of that process. Here are some common myths and tips of what to do with your ROT data, which will help you determine what stays and what goes. The end goal? A data migration that sparks joy.

Your database may include a rat’s nest of emails, photos, GIFs, memes and general ROT.

Has the ROT Set In?

Redundant, obsolete or trivial? These are three questions you need to ask yourself when determining what gets migrated to the new environment and what doesn’t. It’s strictly a business decision, since storage space costs money. Even if you think, “Ah, well, it’s not that much extra,” consider multiplying that cost by twelve months per year, over the next several years. Suddenly, it’s not so insignificant anymore, unlike some of the data you’re sitting with that contains stuff so truly insignificant, it genuinely doesn’t warrant being migrated.

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How much useless old junk have users stored on your system?

For example, Kevin, who used to work in accounting, left behind a folder labeled, “Warnings.” Upon inspection, you discover hundreds upon hundreds of documents, all in bold 72-point font-size, issuing warnings such as, “Don’t eat my lunch!” or “My sandwiches contain allergens. Do NOT eat them!” Clearly, in the twelve years he was with the company, Kevin left more messages taped to that fridge than everyone else, in the entire history of the company, combined. Those documents, all 692 of them, definitely don’t warrant space in the new environment. (Apologies to Kevin, but that’s the way the sandwich crumbles.)

Do you know what kind of system has absolutely no ROT on it? A brand-spanking-new one that has absolutely no data on it. In all seriousness, though, ROT can be a considerable problem, and we outline the details of performing a ROT analysis in this article. Below we address seven of the most common excuses for system ROT and what the prevailing attitude should be for successful cleaning.

1. We don’t have any ROT.

Perhaps your company has policies in place that offer guidelines to employees in terms of what data is relevant to the business and should, therefore, be saved. Perhaps your compliance manager has gone over these policies a thousand times with the employees. Perhaps you think it’s all under control and the users are applying the relevant policies. But here’s a heads up: Users can be terrible hoarders.

They probably started out saving stuff to their desktop, but in no time at all, their desktop looked like the kitchen junk-drawer. They then had the inspired idea to set up a new folder on the O-drive and stick all that kind of thing in there. Doesn’t sound too awful until you multiply that by the number of employees currently in your organization, plus all your former employees, over all the years you’ve been in business. That starts adding up. The result is that your database may include a rat’s nest of emails, photos, GIFs, memes and general ROT.

Do you know what kind of system has absolutely no ROT on it?

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If you expect speed and agility from your system, don’t let it get cluttered.

So, even if you have policy in place that is meant to prevent this kind of hoarding behavior, whether you like it or not, the chances are pretty good that you have ROT. It’s not your fault. It’s simply human nature.

  1. We spent good money on software that detects duplicates, so we’re not worried.

You’re not wrong, but there’s a pretty big “but” here. Generally, this type of software only solves part of the problem. It often won’t detect earlier versions of documents, trivial items, out of date policies or the above-mentioned rat’s nest. Human intervention is going to be required.

  1. We’ve been doing just fine for years without any concerns about ROT.

What’s the old adage? “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” Just because you’ve had no concerns about ROT up until this point, doesn’t mean it’s wise to continue to ignore it. Excess ROT means you’re probably paying more for data storage than you need to, plus it has an impact on employee productivity. And when an employee leaves, they leave their ROT behind. Is there someone in your organization that is tasked with locating it and deleting it?

Who wants a system that lumbers along sluggishly, like a beast of burden? Surely smooth, streamlined operation is better for everyone.

  1. We factor the cost of data storage into our running costs, so we’re not worried about it.

Um, that river in Egypt comes to mind again. Sure, data storage costs are an unavoidable expense without which few businesses can survive. But it’s not only the storage that demands its slice of the budget. There’s the cost of managing it and backing it up, too. If you have on-premise servers, you can factor in the electricity bills and cooling costs as well. According to Fuse Collaboration’s blog, “There are some amazing statistics on the net that show that when IT companies have gone in to “sort out” unmanageable systems, that up to 80% of data has been ROT. Slashing your running costs by 80% suddenly becomes a bit more attractive.”

Need we say more?

Slashing your running costs by 80% suddenly becomes a bit more attractive.

  1. Getting rid of ROT is hard and takes forever, so it’s not worthwhile.

Most companies leave it up to the end user to clean out their own ROT. But as we stated above, most users are hoarders, and the end user is the very reason the ROT exists in the first place. That’s kind of like asking a prisoner to be his own prison guard. The result? Empty prisons and systems clogged with ROT.

Handling ROT might be easier than you think, though. First, appoint key decision-makers who can identify the ROT. Second, find the technology or process that works best for your organization to identify, process and remove the ROT. Voila, this house is clean.

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If you have data that no longer serves a purpose in the organization, get rid of it.

  1. I’ll worry about the ROT when the new GDPR comes into effect.

This is mainly for our European readers, except for the last paragraph in this section, which applies to everyone.

The General Data Protection Regulation is the toughest privacy and security law in the world and imposes obligations onto organizations anywhere, so long as they target or collect data related to people in the EU. While the USA currently has no equivalent, it’s worth mentioning that the US does have rules governing information retention if you have sensitive information. Also, pay gates on websites have security requirements and so do any places where you store that data. But we digress.

  1. Getting rid of ROT makes us nervous. What if we end up needing something we’ve gotten rid of?

It’s exactly that kind of thinking that has netted grandma 4,726 empty glass jars that she’ll never use but won’t throw out “just in case.”

Of course, we understand that deleting data makes people twitchy, but if you have robust policies in place, you can feel confident, for example, that the data could be searched using metadata against the parameters you choose.

Do you really need HR records for employees who left more than a decade ago? Do you need the earlier versions of every document your organization has ever produced? Do you want your databases choked with employees’ personal photos, documents, GIFs and audiobook downloads? Do you want to hang onto marketing lists that are over ten years old? Or even five years old? Do you seriously need those ancient branding logos and documentation?

Users can be terrible hoarders.

The list goes on and on. When you start thinking about it in smaller, bite-sized chunks, the decisions become obvious and less nerve-wracking. Baby steps. We get it.

You’re probably going to need policy and this is where senior management can contribute. Confidence in those policies will translate to confidence in the documents and records that are managed by your organization. (And if grandma had that same confidence, she’d actually be able to park her car in the darn garage, which currently resembles a glass jar museum. Sigh.)

How We Can Help Spark Joy for You

We know that, every day, growing numbers of companies need to migrate to the Cloud in order to accommodate changing business practices and facilitate remote employment. Hopefully, they’ve cleaned up their data and are only migrating what’s essential to the business. And hopefully, they’re also aware that data loss due to broken file links is one of the most common side effects of a migration. This does not spark joy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Welcome to upset end-users, grumpy bosses and longer hours at the office for you. We hate that. We’re all about finding the joy wherever possible.

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Saving a ton of time means a chance to indulge in the things that spark joy for you.

The easiest way to prevent missing data caused by broken links would be to use LinkFixer Advanced. It preps all the links in all your files prior to the migration. Then, after the migration, it automatically re-links all your files in a single batch run. This proactive way of avoiding missing data as a result of broken links never fails to spark joy.

If you’ve already completed your migration and you’ve got broken file links that are threatening your evenings and weekends (where’s the joy in that?), LinkFixer Advanced has another feature that will rapidly fix thousands of links at a time, so that each link points to the file it’s supposed to, which restores the missing data in a flash.

To find out more, please call a friendly Service Consultant at 727-442-1822 or visit LinkTek.com for a live demonstration. Don’t forget to ask about the third way LinkFixer Advanced can help you. No missing data? No complaining end-users? No grumpy bosses? Man, if that isn’t enough to spark joy, we don’t know what is!

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