Whether electronic records are deleted intentionally or unintentionally, there is a perception that with the right tools and expertise, virtually every record is recoverable. Is that true?
In the forensic world, once data is deleted, resort is often taken to “back-up” tapes to recover the missing records. But is this approach realistic and what does it cost? Should back-up tapes be used in run of the mill cases to collect data?
By its very nature, data on backup tapes falls into the “inaccessible” realm. Sedona Canada, Principle 5, says that “inaccessible” information should not generally need to be produced, as retrieving this information is quite difficult and time consuming. However, in some cases, potentially relevant information is only present on back-up tapes. When this situation arises, the producing party is faced with a couple of options:
Option 1 can sometimes be conducted by in-house IT staff, albeit at significant cost and disruption when there are a large number of tapes. Option 2 requires the use of an e-discovery vendor who specializes in tape restoration. However, the cost savings can be significant. The use of specialized tools can often reduce both the cost and the time for the extraction of data from tapes.
Backup tapes are best suited for disaster recovery. Using them as any part of a records retention plan is akin to storing all of your important paper records in one big box at the bottom of a cave in a faraway country – they can be retrieved, but only with great effort and cost. Strategically storing and organizing records in a customized information management system makes far more sense.